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Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture$
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Jane E. Everson, Andrew Hiscock, and Stefano Jossa

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266502

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266502.001.0001

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Lessons in Madness

Lessons in Madness

The Orlando Furioso on the Eighteenth-Century Operatic Stage (with Special Reference to Handel)1

(p.169) 9 Lessons in Madness
Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture

Tim Carter

British Academy

Orlando Furioso had a life in the European imagination well beyond the poem itself, and ranging from the visual arts to the operatic stage. Over a hundred operas based on it were composed between 1619 and 1924, and they tell us a great deal not only about the reception of Orlando Furioso across time and space, but also as regards the contribution of a particularly ‘mad’ genre to issues that variously dominated particular political, social, and cultural contexts. The settings of Orlando, Ariodante, and Alcina by George Frideric Handel, composed for London in the early 1730s, provide good examples: they reveal the fashion in England for matters Turkish (seen also in the architecture of Vauxhall Gardens), as well as emerging notions of the nature of madness and of the ways in which it might be treated.

Keywords:   Orlando Furioso, opera, Handel, London, Turkish, Vauxhall Gardens, madness

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