George Frideric Handel
Robert Carsen’s witty and irreverent production comes roaring back to the stage with a brand new cast.
A magical battle of wits and wills ensues between Rinaldo’s Crusaders and the Saracen army, as the fate not just of two lovers but two nations hangs in the balance.
Carsen’s exuberant schoolroom staging is well on its way to becoming a Glyndebourne classic, bringing out all the energy and excess in Handel’s first opera for the London stage. The composer’s colourful, tune-filled score – bright with brass fanfares and memorable arias including ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ – is one of his finest, sweeping the audience from laughter to love and back again, in this exotic, East-meets-West musical fantasy.
Two young singers lead the cast. Countertenor Jake Arditti takes the title role and, fresh from playing Michal in Glyndebourne Festival’s Saul, soprano Anna Devin is Almirena. American soprano Jacquelyn Stucker makes her Glyndebourne debut as Armida, with bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock as Saracen king Argante.
Revival Movement Director
Peter van Praet
Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra
Leader Richard Milone
A Christian Magician
Caitlin Fretwell Walsh, Keiko Hewitt-Teale, Caroline Lofthouse, Sarah O’Connell, Sarah Ward
Andrew Hayler, Nathaneal James, Anthony Kurt Gabel, Bailey Pepper, Colm Seery
*Soloist from The Glyndebourne Chorus
The action is set during the first Crusade.
Goffredo, helped by Eustazio, is leading the Crusader army in its siege of Jerusalem. Goffredo’s daughter Almirena is loved by the knight Rinaldo. Goffredo tells Rinaldo that he may marry his daughter if he is victorious in battle. A herald announces the approach of Argante, the enemy Saracen King. Argante requests a three-day truce, to which Goffredo assents. Alone, Argante waits for his mistress Armida, the powerful sorceress and Queen of Damascus. She appears and informs Argante that the Saracens’ only chance of victory lies in depriving the Christian forces of Rinaldo’s support. She herself is prepared to undertake this task.
Rinaldo and Almirena reaffirm their love. Suddenly, Armida and her forces attack them and abduct Almirena. Goffredo and Eustazio arrive. When the distraught Rinaldo tells them what has happened, Eustazio suggests that the Christian Magician can help them.
Rinaldo leads them all in their mission to rescue Almirena.
Near a lake, Goffredo, Eustazio and Rinaldo are struggling to find the Christian Magician, when suddenly a beautiful woman appears in a boat. She promises Rinaldo that she will lead him to Almirena. To his companions’ dismay, Rinaldo impulsively jumps on board, and the boat vanishes.
Almirena is now Armida’s captive. She is guarded by Argante, who confesses that he has fallen in love with her. He promises that he will defy Armida and free Almirena if she returns his love, but she rejects him. Rinaldo, now also a captive, is brought before Armida. He angrily demands that Almirena be set free. Against her will, Armida finds herself falling in love with her enemy. She attempts to seduce him by magically transforming herself into Almirena. Rinaldo, suspecting trickery, rejects her.
Argante now appears and mistakes the transformed Armida for Almirena. He repeats his earlier declarations of love. Armida, outraged by his infidelity, vows vengeance and departs in fury.
Goffredo and Eustazio finally find the Christian Magician, who gives them the magic powers they need to enter Armida’s palace unharmed.
Armida is about to kill Almirena. Rinaldo, still a prisoner, is powerless to prevent her, when suddenly Goffredo and Eustazio come to the captives’ aid. Goffredo, Almirena and Rinaldo rejoice at being reunited. Argante and Armida, now reconciled, prepare their troops. Goffredo’s army also advances, led by Rinaldo, and the battle commences. The Crusaders are victorious. Rinaldo and Almirena celebrate their love, while Armida and Argante accept their defeat. Goffredo forgives the enemy and sets them free, as they all join in a chorus of reconciliation.