Opera Scotland

Rinaldo

Music
George Frideric Handel (born Halle, 23 February 1685; died London, 14 April 1759).

Text
Giacomo Rossi.

Source
Scenario by Aaron Hill, based on the poem Gerusalemme liberata (1575) by Torquato Tasso (1544-95).

Premières
First performance: London (Queen’s Theatre, Haymarket), 24 February 1711.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (New Athenaeum Theatre), 4 May 2006.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
Rinaldo was the first opera by Handel to be presented in London after his arrival in 1710. It was prepared quickly, so the plot is episodic and in many ways almost incoherent, but he was able to recycle many great arias composed previously for operas and oratorios performed in Italy, which were still unknown in London. Many spectacular stage effects were required (Armida has a habit of arriving by flying chariot). The result was a sensational success and the piece opened the way for Handel to become the dominant figure in British musical life for the next fifty years.

Main Characters
Goffredo, Captain General of the Crusader forces (alto)
Almirena, his daughter, betrothed to Rinaldo (soprano)
Rinaldo, a Crusader hero, betrothed to Almirena (alto)
Eustazio, Goffredo’s brother (alto)
Argante, King of Jerusalem, Armida’s lover (bass)
Armida, a sorceress, Queen of Damascus, and Argante’s lover (soprano)

Plot Summary
The Crusaders are besieging Argante’s forces, and Rinaldo has been promised that if they are victorious he will marry Almirena. Armida tells Argante that the only way to achieve victory is to persuade Rinaldo to change sides, and that she has a plan. Almirena and Rinaldo love one another, but she is spirited away by Armida. A spirit then lures Rinaldo into a boat on the pretext that Almirena wants him. Meanwhile Almirena herself, in Armida’s magic garden, rejects the advances of Argante and mourns her loss of Rinaldo. Armida is delighted that Rinaldo has been captured and attempts to seduce him, but is also rejected, even when she is disguised as Almirena. In this guise she also discovers Argante’s falsehood when he tries, once more, to seduce the captive. A Christian hermit tells Goffredo and Eustazio that Rinaldo and Almirena are prisoners of the enemy. He eventually provides the magic powers that ensure the destruction of the enchanted fortress and gardens. Rinaldo, reunited with his army, ensures victory in battle. Armida and Argante, reconciled in defeat, renounce magic powers and convert to Christianity.

The Cast

Almirena
 Goffredo's daughter, in love with Rinaldo
Araldo
 Argante's messenger
Argante
 head of the enemy forces
Armida
 a sorceress, in league with Argante
First Siren
 in Armida's service
Goffredo
 head of the Christian forces
Mago Cristiano
 
Rinaldo
 hero of the Christian forces, in love with Almirena
Second Siren
 in Armida's service

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