Rinaldo, Opera by G. F. Handel
George Frideric Handel, the German-born composer who made such a career in London that Great Britain rightfully claims him as his own, needed to start his English period with a bang. Rinaldo delivered just that. An explosive Italian opera that firmly established Handel’s reputation on the Albion for decades to come, it still enjoys lasting success on the world opera stages. It also serves as a prime example of the Baroque opera, a genre that does not enjoy as much attention as its later incarnations. Gran Teatro La Fenice thus presents a true old classic.
Working on his first English commission in 1710, Handel was pressed for time and eager to make a powerful statement with his debut stage work in London after numerous successful oratorios and operas in Venice, Rome and Hamburg. His impresario Aaron Hill pointed him to Torquato Tasso’s epic poem Jerusalem Delivered, which librettist Giacomo Rossi prepared for the operatic stage. The premiere of Rinaldo took place on 24 February 1711 at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s Haymarket, and it unequivocally established Handel as the king of Italian opera in England.
The opera transports audiences back to the times of the First Crusade. Rinaldo, a Crusader, and his beloved Almirena must fight against Argante, King of the Saracens, and the sorceress Armida who is also the Queen of Damascus. As the battle rages on and the lovers face increasingly difficult challenges, including flying chariots and fire-breathing dragons, Handel’s inspired score drives the action forward to a remarkable climax. Apart from the impressive arias and duets that let the title characters shine, Rinaldo is also remarkable with the avantgarde orchestration choices. Harpsichord solos and trumpet bursts are just a couple of the thrilling musical elements that will keep you entertained and once again confirm that Handel was a composer ahead of his time.