is an opera by George Frideric Handel
composed in 1711, and was the first Italian language opera
written specifically for the London stage. The libretto
was prepared by Giacomo Rossi
from a scenario provided by Aaron Hill
, and the work was first performed at the Queen's Theatre
in London's Haymarket
on 24 February
The story of love, battle and redemption set at the time of the First Crusade is loosely based on Torquato Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"), and its staging involved many original and vivid effects.
The opera was a great success with the public, despite negative reactions from literary critics hostile to the contemporary trend towards Italian entertainment in English theatres. Rinaldo was the most frequently performed of all Handel's musical dramas during his lifetime. However, after 1731 the opera was not staged for more than 200 years.
Following a successful run at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1984, performances and recordings of the work have become more frequent worldwide. Despite the lack of a standard edition, with its spectacular vocal and orchestral passages Rinaldo has been cited as one of Handel's greatest operas. Of its individual numbers the soprano aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" has become a particular favourite and is a popular concert piece.