The Liberation of Ruggiero from the island of Alcina. Imperiale, villa of the Most Serene Archduchess of Tuscany
title “Imperiale, villa of the Most Serene Archduchess of Tuscany”, bottom right, “Alfonso Parigi I. et F.”
Francesca Caccini's opera, “The Liberation of Ruggiero from the island of Alcina” (1625), staged in villa di Poggio Imperiale illustrated here, ended with an equestrian ballet. From the position where it had watched the opera, presumably in a courtyard, the audience moved to the windows and terraces of the villa to get a better view of the performance of the knights on horseback. The protagonist of this illustration, which concludes Ferdinando Saracinelli’s libretto, is the villa itself, purchased by the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Maria Maddalena of Austria a few years earlier and renovated by the official architect to the Medici court, Giulio Parigi, who also designed the sets for the performance. This and the other illustrations from the libretto were etched by Giulio’s son, Alfonso, who in this print seems to anticipate the subsequent genre of landscape prints, rather than record the performance in which the protagonists, knights on horseback, appear decidedly small compared to the general setting of the scene.