His return to the podium in full swing after a long period of illness and uncertainty, James Levine adds three Carnegie Hall dates to his beloved orchestra’s busy opera season. The first concert includes works by two composers dear to him: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C (with the eminent Maurizio Pollini as soloist) and Mahler’s wrenching Ninth Symphony. In February comes the voluptuous-toned mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca, singing Berg’s “Seven Early Songs” on a full program that also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, Elliott Carter’s “Three Illusions” and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, with its profound slow movement. Soon after the opera season ends in May, the orchestra returns a final time, with Brahms’s youthful Piano Concerto No. 1 (and the dazzling yet delicate Yefim Bronfman as soloist) and Berlioz’s blazing “Symphonie Fantastique.”
Bradamante and Ruggiero decide that they need to destroy the source of Alcina's magic, usually represented as an urn. Alcina pleads with them, but Ruggiero is deaf to her appeals and smashes the urn. As he does so, everything is both ruined and restored. Alcina's magic palace crumbles to dust and she and Morgana sink into the ground, but Alcina's lovers are returned to their proper selves. The lion turns into Oberto's father, Astolfo, and other people stumble on, "I was a rock," says one, "I a tree" says another, and "I a wave in the ocean..." All the humans sing of their relief and joy, and Alcina is forgotten.