The Liberation of Ruggiero from the island of Alcina. Fourth change of scene in which the knights and ladies leave the cav[es] The knights on horseback come out afterwards.
Alfonso Parigi (Florence 1606 -1656)
“Fourth change in which the knights and ladies leave the cav[es] The knights on horseback come out afterwards”, bottom right, “Alfonso Parigi I. et F.”
This print, made to illustrate Ferdinando Saracinelli’s libretto for the opera “The Liberation of Ruggiero from the island of Alcina”, presents the last scene, performed by dancers, played, as reported during the period, not by professionals, but by the ladies and gentlemen of the court. In the background, probably painted on the cloth that closed the set, it is possible to catch a glimpse of the knights who are the protagonists of the finale, which concluded with an equestrian ballet, illustrated in another etching by Alfonso Parigi. For the opera, with music composed by Francesca Caccini for Maria Maddalena of Austria, the court architect, Giulio Parigi designed the scenery which was then translated into print form by his son, Alfonso, then not much older than 18 years old. Although the etchings appear simple and clear in terms of their general approach, they also demonstrate Alfonso’s great expertise in measuring the etched strokes, boosting the chiaroscuro effects in the areas of the two rotating wings near to the stage, and using finer, more rarefied lines, moving gradually towards the background.
The performance alternates scenes set on land with others set at sea, which put Giulio’s scenographic and technical skills to the test.
The opera made its debut in the villa of Poggio Imperiale on 3 February 1625.