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On a London stage in 1733, Zoroastro transforms a forest into a horrible cave. He performs this magical act to prepare to return the sanity of Orlando, a man who has gone mad from love. This scene from George Frederic Handel’s opera Orlando is not representative of most opera of its time, but these fantastical elements are preceded by a long tradition of the depiction of magic in Europe beginning in the Medieval period. In this paper, I will be tracing the narrative of magical Eastern character archetypes through the lens of European perception. I will focus on the culture of Medieval Arabic Translation, Italian epic Crusade narratives, and finally George Frederic Handel’s opera adaptations of these epic texts.
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Agnew, Erica L., "Magic from Toledo to London: The Magical Eastern Archetype in Medieval Arabic Translation, Italian Epic, and Handel's London Operas" (2022). Senior Projects Spring 2022. 9.
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