Rinaldo is an opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel with an Italian libretto by Giacomo Rossi, premiered on the 24 February 1711 at Queen’s Theater in London. The plot of the drama draws inspiration from Aaron Hill’s adaptation of the epic poem Jerusalem Delivered (“La Gerusalemme liberata”) by Torquato Tasso, the Italian poet imprisoned at Saint Anne Hospital in Ferrara because of his antisocial tendencies. The drama takes place in the Holy Land during the Crusades. The background of love triangles and religious wars pours into the full resources of the “meraviglioso cristiano” (“Christian marvel”), a theater genre that stages the battle between good and evil. In fact, Jerusalem Delivered, and consequently Handel’s Rinaldo, not only presents a romantic drama in the framework of the religious wars, but religion actually becomes the driving force of scenic acts in its metaphysical and baroque elements. But what united Rinaldo’s convoluted storylines is, without a doubt, the quality of the music that displays some of the greatest pages in Handel’s repertoire.
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“Lascia ch’io pianga/mia cruda sorte,/e che sospiri/la libertà” (“Leave me to cry/about my cruel destiny/and sigh and mourn/liberty”): these are the first verses of the vibrant aria in the second act of Handel’s Rinaldo, sung by Almirena to her harasser, Argante, the pagan king of Jerusalem, to show the disdain he inspires within her. The extremely refined, yet very moving song has become one of the most well-known pages of Handel’s Rinaldo, winning a place among the most beautiful arias and being used in many multi-awarded films such as Farinelli (a cinematic portrait of the last castrato in the history of classical music. You can find some documentaries about this fascinating personality on our archive videos). Although emblematic of Handel’s opera Rinaldo, the aria Lascia ch’io pianga is a reprise of an earlier work by Handel, Lascia la spina, taken from the oratorio Il Trionfo del Tempo, written in 1707, in which it is said: “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa” (“Forget about the spine, gather the rosebuds”)! And you, what are you waiting for? On medici.tv, you can find some of the best interpretations of Handel’s works, including Rinaldo, to listen to whenever you want, wherever you are!