Orlando © beyond | Herwig Zens

Synopsis

A knight can sometimes succumb to the madness of love without the need for magic, though spells are then often the only antidote. One of Charlemagne’s best knights, the legendary hero Orlando, suffers a particularly bad attack. He is withdrawn from the battle against the Moors in Spain when he falls in love with Angelica, the beautiful Queen of Cathay. Acts of heroism on the battlefield now mean nothing to him; his only aim is to win this lady. Orlando’s tutor, the magician Zoroastro, has no time for love and warns his charge not to stray from the path of glory — but without success. Orlando does not listen to him and is of the opinion that a war hero can equally well be a hero in love, especially when the object of his ardour is so beautiful, and a queen. Unfortunately, Angelica does not share his feelings; instead, she thinks up numerous tricks to avoid his ardent attentions. As a general rule, she does not find heroes especially attractive, and has fallen in love with the largely unimportant but handsome and tender Medoro, who also loves her. The two of them are happy together and carve hearts with their names into the bark of trees. But that, in turn, saddens the shepherdess Dorinda who is consumed by a powerful longing for Medoro. Gradually a catastrophe develops as it slowly begins to dawn on Orlando that Angelica has no interest in him whatsoever. Zoroastro manages to calm his jealous rage several times, but when Orlando notices the tokens on the trees of the love shared by Angelica and Medoro his distress and jealousy drive him out of his mind and he becomes a threat. In the end he rampages against everything and everybody. He destroys Dorinda’s house, with Medoro still inside it, and in his madness tosses Angelica into an abyss. Zoroastro has to intervene and use a magic potion to release Orlando from his insane passion. The hero, now cured, is aghast at his behaviour and despairingly laments the deaths of Medoro and Angelica. But here too Zoroastro has come to the rescue: the apparently dead couple returns to life, Orlando renounces his love of Angelica and returns to the path of military valour.