Orlando - Synopsis

Georg Friedrich Händel: Orlando. David Daniels Orlando: David Daniels Georg Friedrich Händel: Orlando. David Daniels


Georg Friedrich Händel
Unknown librettist, based on a text by Carlo Sigismondo Capece after Ludovico Ariosto


Act One

Zoroastro is worried. Orlando, a great warrior, has fallen in love with the foreign princess, Angelica, who has been living in Dorinda’s house for some time. Since falling in love, Orlando has shown little inclination to perform deeds of valour and refuses outright to listen to Zoroastro’s demands that he should again take a greater interest in his military duties. Dorinda has also noticed that Orlando lives only for love at the moment. Angelica, however, does not return Orlando’s love, her heart belongs to a mysterious hero called Medoro whom she nursed to health when he was wounded. She was helped in this by Dorinda, who is now also in love with Medoro.

Orlando tries in vain to win Angelica’s affection with proof of his love. Dorinda discovers Angelica’s and Medoro’s so far well-kept secret of their love for each other and her hopes of finding happiness with Medoro are thus dashed. Angelica and Medoro thank Dorinda for all her help by giving her a piece of jewelry and try to comfort her in her love-lorn state with assurances that she will one day also find true love.


Act Two

Orlando learns from Dorinda of Angelica’s love for Medoro; the piece of jewelry the lovers gave Dorinda had been a present to Angelica from Orlando. Beside himself with jealousy and rage, Orlando is torn between thoughts of revenge and suicide. Zoroastro warns Angelica and Medoro of Orlando’s fury and promises to help them when they decide to flee from Orlando. While Medoro is making the necessary arrangements for their flight, Orlando discovers Angelica, who just manages to escape from him. Tormented by anger and jealousy, Orlando becomes unhinged.


Act Three

Dorinda is worried about Medoro’s safety. To her utter amazement, Orlando suddenly declares his love for her, but she then realizes that he does not really know who she is in his madness. He first sees in her his beloved, then an enemy whom he has to attack and destroy. Angelica realizes that Orlando’s unrequited love for her has brought on this fever of the brain. While she expresses her hope that Orlando will come to his senses, Dorinda is lost in her own thoughts about love.

Zoroastro is convinced that his theory, namely that lovers all too often lose their minds, has been confirmed. He is determined to restore Orlando to his senses and set him back on the path to fame.

In his madness, Orlando destroys everything that crosses his path. He first kills Medoro and then Angelica. When he finally falls asleep, exhausted, Zoroastro magically heals him. Orlando comes to and learns what he has done in his madness. In despair, he wants to kill himself – and is prevented from doing so by Angelica and Medoro, who had merely appeared to fall victim to his rage and had been saved by Zoroastro. Orlando overcomes his despair, accepts the betrothal of Angelica and Medoro and announces that from now on he intends to devote himself to his task of seeking glory as a war hero. Zoroastro has achieved his goal.

© Bavarian State Opera

Translation: Susan Bollinger