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27 March 2014 | by Robert Thicknesse


Sometimes only the echo remains; does anyone still read Ariosto? From the moment it appeared in 1516, his epic poem Orlando Furioso gripped the consciousness of Europe, a blockbuster which everyone read, which instantly created its own mythology and a sparkling, fully formed chivalric world of knights, magic horses and distressed damsels, a continental Camelot. The poem’s legacy in music drama is vast, from Monteverdi to Rossini and beyond. Handel used tales from Ariosto in three great works, Orlando, Ariodante and Alcina, turning the poet’s rather gleeful celebrations of human folly into meditations on the joy and havoc wreaked by our desperate need for love.Alcina is a sexy enchantress who ensnares men on her magic island – and turns her discarded lovers into geographi

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