Rinaldo

Recommended recording

Curated by Guy Jones, Head of Curation

About this work

After composing two Italian operas for Hamburg, two Italian oratorios for Rome, and a third Italian opera for Venice, George Frideric Handel moved to England in 1710 to compose his first Italian opera for London. Produced in the Queen's Theater in the Haymarket on February 24, 1711, Rinaldo would certainly have been an enormous success if the librettist and impresario Aaron Hill had not neglected to pay the tradesmen, thereby causing the Lord Chamberlain to revoke Hill's theater license nine days after the premiere. But Rinaldo paved the way for the quick success of Handel and Italian opera in London and the work was revived in 1712, then again in 1717, and again in 1731.

Hill's libretto is based on Tasso's epic poem on the First Crusade Gerusalamme liberata, but with a new plot and a new female lead to give the story appeal to a then-contemporary London audience. Handel's music is in part a pastiche drawn from many of his earlier dramatic works, and in part a newly composed work with deeply expressive arias and recitative adorned with extravagant trumpet and woodwind writing. Together, Hill's libretto and Handel's music create a powerful and plangent opera with strong and sympathetic leads in Rinaldo and Almirenda and a superbly coherent and convincing score.

Done