Musical highlights

Discover the musical highlights in Handel's Rinaldo

Rinaldo’s colourful, tune-filled score – bright with brass fanfares and memorable arias including ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ – is one of Handel’s finest.

The opera sweeps the audience from laughter to love and back again, in this exotic, East-meets-West musical fantasy.

You can enjoy some of the opera’s highlights below.

Furie terribili

Lasting barely a minute, Armida’s brief but spectacular ‘Furie terribili’ sets the tone for a sorceress who will stop at nothing to gain victory over the Crusaders. Here she summons the Furies to her in a musical lightning bolt of a cavatina whose sparks fly out in jagged semiquaver darts after an initial thunder clap from the orchestra.

Augelleti che cantate

If there’s a musical touchstone to sweet-natured Almirena’s character then it is definitely Act I’s ‘Augelleti che cantate’ and not the better-known ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’. Almirena’s sympathy and harmony with the natural world around her is captured by a solo trilling recorder. Calm, lovely and terribly sincere, this gentle aria captures the essence of this innocent, guileless heroine.

Cara sposa

After Almirena is stolen away from him by sorceress Armida, Rinaldo’s first reaction is not fury or vengeance, but an overpowering sense of grief and loss. ‘Cara sposa’ (Act II), shows a private introspective side to our hero. It also reveals his kinship with Almirena, in a graceful melody that shares many traits with her later ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’.

Venti turbini

After the brooding sadness of ‘Cara Sposa’, this is the aria in which we really begin to see the mettle of the Crusading Rinaldo. His beloved Almirena has been kidnapped by the wicked sorceress, on whom he swears vengeance in the explosive ‘Venti turbini’ (Act I). A solo violin, flinging semiquavers around like artillery-fire, sets the tone for one of the opera’s most dazzling showpieces, and a musical demonstration that Armida has met her match.

Lascia ch’io pianga

Kidnapped by Armida and Argante, Almirena must find a way to escape. In this heartfelt plea for release (which is carefully calculated to tug on the heartstrings) ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ she plays to her strengths, and begs for clemency, appealing to her captors in a melody whose fragmented phrases capture the broken, sobbing gasps of one in great distress, but whose poise speaks to a singer in complete control of this performance.

The aria has been used frequently in films, such as Farinelli in 1994, L.I.E. in 2001, Antichrist in 2009 and Nymphomaniac in 2013. It is also likely to be known for its use in the Harrods Christmas sale advert!

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