Home > Caccini Puppet Opera > SFist: Puppet Opera: La Liberazione di Ruggiero

SFist: Puppet Opera: La Liberazione di Ruggiero

Cedric Westphal posted this preview of Magnificat’s performance of La Liberazione di Ruggiero on SFist.com yesterday.

Alcina and one of her minions

Alcina and one of her minions

La Liberazione di Ruggiero is arguably the first opera written by a woman, and features strong feminist themes and a challenge to patriarchal society, but honestly, they had us at Puppet Opera. And not just any kind of puppets: three foot tall, forty pound puppets from Sicily, getting into sword fights and romance. It is actually quite common that your opera singers act stiff and wooden, and these puppets are no exception.

Written in 1625 by a woman, Francesca Caccini, for a woman, Maria Magdalena de Medici, who wanted to impress the visiting prince of Poland to her court of Tuscany, it is based on Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso“. Magnificat Baroque will perform the score, under the baton of artistic director (and blogger) Warren Stewart, while the Carter Family Marionettes will do the visuals. We caught up with Warren Stewart and Stephen Carter during a break in their rehearsals. It became quite obvious that they were an excellent match to collaborate, as both of them share a charming volubility, and combine an obvious passion with an erudite scholarship for some rather arcane artistic forms: 17th century music and puppetry.

“There certainly was a tradition of performing opera with puppets,” Warren said, “going back to the beginning of opera. Unlike previous productions we have done with the Carters, this opera was never done with puppets. This opera was performed only once for a specific occasion in 1625, and not performed again until the 20th century.” It is not a US premiere, however. “We have done plenty of modern premiere of 17th century music,” Warren acknowledged, “but in this case it has been done. This opera received a lot of attention since it is the first opera by a woman. So there has been musicological work on it and several productions in the last couple decades.

Actually, apart from Kaija Saariaho and the upcoming commission of the SF Opera from Jennifer Higdon we could not come up with another opera written by a female composer. “We should advertise this as the only opera by a woman,” joked Warren.

Read the Entire Article

  1. October 18th, 2009 at 07:53 | #1

    You couldn’t come up with more operas by women?? You should have asked me. 🙂

    The following have all written operas (and most of them have been performed…): Thea Musgrave, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Elizabeth Maconchy, Elaine Fine, Deborah Drattell, Dame Ethel Smyth, Sheila Silver, Unsuk Chin, Alice Shields, Germaine Tailleferre. I’m sure I’m missing some.

  2. October 21st, 2009 at 10:45 | #2

    Thanks for the list, Lisa. Cedric mentioned a few of these when we spoke. The context for the answer I gave that Cedric quoted was Baroque operas. I would be very interested to know of any other operas by women from the 17th or 18th (or even 19th) centuries.

  3. October 21st, 2009 at 10:48 | #3

    Aaaaah, that makes sense!

  1. No trackbacks yet.