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Looking Back on Last Season: Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero

Magnificat’s 2009-2010 season opened with a somewhat irreverent production of Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero on the weekend on October 16-18, 2009. The production marked the return of The Carter Family Marionettes, with their troupe of wooden trouble-makers, to Magnificat’s series.

Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle expressed what many of the audience felt when he commented that “the Carters have wooden stand-ins not only for the main human characters but also for dragons and demons, birds and gamboling lambs, transformed trees and dancing sea horses, and the level of theatrical magic on display was enchanting.” The full review can be read here.

Of course, Caccini’s magnificent work was not originally intended for interpretation by puppets, but the subject of the opera – the legends of Orlando as told by Ariosto and Tasso – was shared with the repertoire of the Sicilian puppet tradition, a specialization of the Carters and it seemed like a good fit. To this already polyglot stew was added the spice of commedia dell’arte characters, creating a unique and enjoyable experience for performers and audience alike.

Here’s an excerpt from the performance on October 18, 2009 – featuring countertenor José Lemos who will also appear in Magnificat’s upcoming production of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis in October. In the first, the good sorceress Melissa appears and announces her intention of saving Ruggiero from the enchantment of Alcina’s isle by appearing to him in the guise of his mentor Atlante. José is accompanied by Katherine Heater.

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