La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’Isola di Alcina. Firenze 1625
Musica Drammatica, 4. Florence, 1998. 24 x 34 cm, viii, 131 pp. Line-cut of Florence, 1625 edition (full score). Comic opera in four scences, credited as being the first Italian opera performed outside of Italy. Wrappers. $72
liberazione di Ruggiero fits into the Tuscan court’s long-term pattern of representing powerful women. Its setting at Villa Imperiale, its nearly all-female cast, and its plot focus on the contest between two women over the sexual and political destiny of a young man all invited its first audience to imagine they were being given a glimpse of the gynecentric, feminizing world they feared.
It invited them to confront and resolve their anxieties about local women’s sexual and political power in an entertaining way, by inviting them to suspend temporarily the boundary separating representation and reality, in the very space most associated with that power. It invited them, too, to a resolution in which they could imagine themselves liberated from effeminacy (or from unreasonable gynephobia) through the agency of an unnaturally powerful but benevolent female, the sorceress Melissa". (Suzanne G. Cusick
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