Handel’s 1711 crusader opera Rinaldo, which pits the Christian Rinaldo against Argante, the Muslim King of Jerusalem, was the first Italian-language opera composed for the London stage. Handel composed the opera in just two weeks, aided by the recycling of much existing material — so much that it has been described as an “anthology” of his Italian period. The three arias included here are all recycled: Sibilar gli angui, here an aria for solo trombone, was lifted completely from a dramatic cantata, and has a “ludicrously inappropriate” text for the bellicose Argante’s grand Act I entrance; also from an earlier cantata, Il vostro maggio is here a trumpet solo, in which mermaids lead Rinaldo astray with a song about love’s delights; and Lascia ch’io pianga, played by the E-flat trumpet, was in its third incarnation in Rinaldo (it began life as an Asian dance in the 1705 opera Almira, before appearing in a later oratorio). The latter, in which Almirena bemoans her fate and longs for liberty, is an incredibly simple tune set to a plain accompaniment; but the result is intensely moving, and it has become by far the most famous aria in the opera.

Matthew Knight

Parts included:

  • Score
  • Trumpet in E-flat
  • Trumpet 1 in B-flat
  • Trumpet 2 in B-flat
  • Trombone 1
  • Trombone 2
  • Trombone 3 (Bass)
  • Tuba

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