Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759) was a Prussian-born composer who moved to England in 1712. He was a prolific composer whose works include 120 cantatas, trios and duets, 42 operas and 29 oratorios. Amongst his best known compositions are the collection of orchestral movements known as the The Water Music, the anthem Zadok the Priest and the oratorio Messiah.
Handel's opera Alcina was first performed in 1735 at the Covent Garden Theatre, London, but it did not immediately enter the operatic repertoire. However, following its revival in Leipzig in 1928, there were several major performances of the opera during the 1960s. In a 1999 production (staged by the Opéra National de Paris and the Lyric Opera of Chicago), the role of Alcina the sorceress was performed by Renée Fleming, who has been described by Ann Patchett as 'the living embodiment of art'.