The ideal heroic actor
from Franciscus Lang's treatise published 1727
Cupid and a Lady
engraving from 1690
an engraving from 1726
Caffarelli admiring Nature
engraving by Ghezzi
|Rinaldo was written in 1711, the first opera Handel composed expressly for the London stage. The text was written by Rossi to a scenario by Aaron Hill, one of the managers of Covent Garden and one of the most important men in the theatre of the time. He later wrote a treatise on the Art of Acting.
Rinaldo Christian hero, betrothed to Almirena alto castrato [Niccolo Grimaldi, known as Nicolini]
Goffredo Captain General of the Christian armies contralto [Francesca Vanini-Boschi]
Eustazio brother to Goffredo alto castrato [Valentino Urbani]
Almirena Goffredo’s daughter, betrothed to Rinaldo soprano [Isabella Girardeau]
Argante King of Jerusalem, lover of Armida basso [Giuseppe Boschi]
Armida a sorceress, Queen of Damascus and lover of Argante soprano [Elisabetta Pilotti-Schiavonetti]
A Christian Magician (Mago) alto castrato [Giuseppe Cassani]
The action is set at the time of the First Crusade (109699). Christian forces led by Goffredo (Godfrey of Bouillon) are laying siege to the city of Jerusalem, held by the Saracen king Argante. With Goffredo are his brother Eustazio and his daughter Almirena, who is in love with the Christian knight Rinaldo. Argante is supported by Armida, Queen of Damascus and a powerful sorceress.
Or la tromba comes from the third Act, where Rinaldo, having been rescued from the enchantments of Armida, anticipates (to the accompaniment of no less than four trumpets) the battle in which he will vanquish his foes and regain his beloved Almirena.
back to top
|Not All My Torments
The provenance of this song by Purcell is enigmatic: it does not come from any of the plays, but its complexity is deep and on a par with the devotional pieces such as The Blessed Virgin's Expostulation.
back to top
text by Haym, after Bussani’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto set by Sartorio 1677: Haym developed Cornelia and Sesto, cut out a nurse Rodisbe, diminished the characters of Curio and Nireno, who disappear entirely in later revivals.
This was composed for February 1724 (after Flavio)
The aria Piangero comes from near the beginning of the third act: Cleopatra's schemings have come to worse than nothing: Her beloved Caesar may be dead, Cornelia and Sesto (Pompey's widow and son) who might have been on her side, cannot help, her horrible brother Ptolemy is triumphant, there is no hope for her except to come back as a ghastly spectre and haunt him.
The text is an anonymous revision of a revision by Silvio Stampiglia of Niccolo Minato’s libretto for Cavalli from 1654, used by Bononcini in Rome in 1694
It was composed for the King’s Theatre, Haymarket 1738
As in every opera performed in this time, a printed libretto was provided, giving the Italian on one side and an English translation on the other. Usually a short synopsis was also provided. The one for Serse (or Xerxes) reads thus:
The contexture of this Drama is so very easy, that it wou’d be troubling the reader to give him a long argument to explain it. Some imbicilities, and the temerity of Xerxes (such as his being deeply enamour’d with a plane tree, and the building a bridge over the Hellespont to unite Asia to Europe) are the basis of the story; the rest is fiction.
Serse, Re di Persia soprano-castrato [Gaetano Majorano, called “Caffarelli”]
Arsamene, suo fratello, amante di Romilda alto [Maria Antonia Marchesini, called “La Lucchesina”]
Amastre, unica erede della Corona di Tagor, destinata sposa a Serse, in abito da Uomo (only heiress of the Crown of Tagor, destined bride of Xerxes, dressed as a man) contralto [Antonia Maria Merighi]
Romilda, filia di Ariodate soprano [Elisabeth Duparc, called “La Francesina”]
Atalanta , sua sorella soprano [Margherita Chimenti, called “La Droghierina”]
Ariodate, Principe Vassallo di Serse bass [Antonio Montagnana]
Elviro, servo faceto di Arsamene bass [Antonio Lottini]
coro: damigelle, soldati, marinai, priests, various attendants.