Georg Frideric Handel


22 October - 24 November 2011
Glyndebourne on Tour 2011

In 2011 Glyndebourne celebrates the genius of Handel with its first staging of Rinaldo, the work with which he made his sensational London debut – and the first Italian opera specifically created for the British stage.

Loosely based on Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberate – a wildly fantastical fictionalisation of the Christian ‘liberation’ of Jerusalem during the First Crusade – the opera draws on a love story between the knight Rinaldo and the beauty Almirena. Separated from Almirena by powerful spirits, Rinaldo goes into battle to claim back his love and conquer the city.

Handel’s spectacular tale of love, honour and righteousness is directed by Robert Carsen, familiar to Tour audiences from last year’s acclaimed production of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea. Rinaldo’s richly enticing score is conducted by Laurence Cummings, one of Britain’s foremost early music specialists.

Winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Prize in 2006, British soprano Elizabeth Watts makes her Glyndebourne debut as Almirena. She performs opposite Christophe Dumaux in the title role, whom audiences may remember from his sensational debut as Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare (2005 Festival).

A new production from the 2011 Festival
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Listen to the 2011 Festival Rinaldo podcast (14 mins)

Director Robert Carsen and Dramaturg Ian Burton talk to James Whitbourn about Handel's Rinaldo.


The performance lasts approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes including two intervals of 20 minutes.

Setting: Outside Jerusalem, during the First Crusade (1096-9)

Act I

Goffredo (the historical Godfrey of Bouillon and leader of the Christian forces) sits on a throne within sight of Jerusalem, urging the knight Rinaldo and his followers on to final victory. Rinaldo shares his enthusiasm and also looks forward to his union with Goffredo’s daughter, Almirena. Goffredo warns Rinaldo not to be sidetracked.

Argante, the Saracen King of Jerusalem, comes to parlay with Goffredo, asking for a three-day truce. Goffredo agrees. Left alone, Argante admits that his lover Armida has gone to read the omens of the conflict’s outcome.
Armida now arrives. Dark forces have told her that hope lies only in the Crusader’s loss of Rinaldo’s support, which she intends to engineer herself.

At a pleasant nearby spot, Almirena and Rinaldo reaffirm their love. Suddenly the armed Armida enters and spirits Almirena away.

Goffredo and his brother Eustazio find Rinaldo in despair. He describes how Almirena has been seized by an Amazon surrounded by her infernal host. Eustazio suggests that they visit a wise old man in the vicinity to seek advice. Buoyed up by this suggestion, Rinaldo follows them.

Act II

Near a calm sea, the three Christian knights are travelling to the old man’s cave. Accompanied by two sirens, a woman lures Rinaldo on board her vessel with the promise of Almirena, the others unsuccessfully trying to hold him back. The boat vanishes, with Goffredo and Eustazio left dismayed.

The scene changes to a delightful garden, where Almirena is guarded by Argante, who is in love with her and promises to help her escape. They leave and Armida enters.

She summons her spirits to bring to her Rinaldo, now entirely in her power. As he demands Almirena’s return, Armida senses deep feelings for him and offers him her love. He scorns her until she transforms herself into Almirena, when he embraces her. Instantly she resumes Armida’s form, and he turns away. Fearing Hell’s enchantments, he flees.
Left alone, Armida is torn between her desire for Rinaldo and her fury at his resistance. As she transforms herself once more into Almirena, Argante appears and Armida is further enraged to discover that her former lover has also fallen for Almirena’s charms. Embarrassed, he goes off, while she summons the gods to help avenge her wrongs.


Contemplating the mountain crowned by Armida’s magic castle, Goffredo and Eustazio call upon the Christian sorcerer living at its foot. He warns them that swords will not suffice to rescue Rinaldo and Almirena. As they attempt to climb it they are attacked by monsters and driven back. The magician gives them wands to defeat the monsters, and at their second attempt they reach the castle walls, which disappear when touched by the wands. They move forward into Armida’s realm.

Inside, meanwhile, Armida is on the point of stabbing Almirena. Rinaldo’s pleas fall on deaf ears, and he attacks Armida himself only to be restrained by spirits. Goffredo and Eustazio’s arrival with their magic wands turns the castle into a desert. When Rinaldo once again attacks Armida, poised to strike Almirena, she disappears. The four are reunited, Goffredo expressing his relief and Rinaldo and Almirena their love.

Still suspicious of each other’s temporary emotional attachments, Armida and Argante prepare for battle against the Christian forces. Rinaldo leads the latter, who are victorious.

Rinaldo brings Argante in shackles to Goffredo and Eustazio leads in the captured Armida. She breaks her wand and announces her conversion to Christianity. Argante offers her his hand. All celebrate the triumph of virtue over malice.

© George Hall

Creative team

Conductor Laurence Cummings
Director Robert Carsen
Revival Director Bruno Ravella
Designer Gidion Davey
Lighting Design Robert Carsen and Peter Van Praet
Movement Director Philippe Giraudeau
Dramaturg Ian Burton

Cast includes

Rinaldo Christophe Dumaux
Goffredo Louise Poole
Eustazio Christopher Ainslie
Almirena Elizabeth Watts
Armida Ana Maria Labin
Argante Joshua Hopkins
A Christian Magician William Towers

Audio files: 

Audio extracts courtesy of Decca.

This recording is available to buy from the Glyndebourne Shop.

Joshua Hopkins as Argante in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Christophe Dumaux and Elizabeth Watts as Rinaldo and Almirena in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Christophe Dumaux as Rinaldo in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Ana Maria Labin as Armida  in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Louise Poole as Goffredo and the chorus in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Ana Maria Labin as Armida  in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Christophe Dumaux as Rinaldo in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Christophe Dumaux as Rinaldo in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
The sirens including Charlotte Beament and Rachel Taylor in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
William Towers and Louise Poole as Christian Magus and Goffredo in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Chorus in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.
Christophe Dumaux as Rinaldo in the 2011 tour production of Rinaldo. Photo by Alastair Muir.


Although I was familiar with some of the music, this Glyndebourne production is the only staging of Rinaldo that I have ever seen.

The opera would probably work in the original 11 th Century setting; however, it would be difficult to relate to the characters and I suspect that an 11 th Century setting might easily be worthy, but potentially rather dull.

Setting the opera in a modern boarding school worked very well and quite literally, there was never a dull moment.

The singing and orchestral playing for the Tour was excellent and easily as good as the performances duiring the summer. I would certainly be happy to see this production again.

Brian Stevenson

It was just brilliant.
wonderful singing as usual.
simply loved the extremely witty staging, some of it was hilarious, not what I had expected at all.

Having seen the GOT production at Glyndebourne end of October, I would certainly concur with the above comments regarding the singers: some masterful renditions and Dumaux was stunning. We, however, had no problem understanding the schoolboy's dream concept from the get go. A wonderful, lively production, beautifully staged and choreographed, and the orchestra was excellent. Yes, there were moments when this light-hearted take on it seemed at odds with the emotional content, but the singing, acting and Handel's lovely music just steamrollered any reservations.

Once we had grasped the Boys' Own idea we enjoyed this production enormously. Everything seemed to gel and the singing was outstanding. For once a director's modernisation was a triumph. Also it was great value for money time-wise compared to the other two operas! 4p.m. starts worked well.

Loved the first act, even though my companions thoght it was a bit tedious. The second and third got a bit too silly for my taste and that distracted enormously from the most beautiful music and fantastic voices.

A wonderful production of a masterwork, musically stunning as we all know, but it can be dramatically exceedingly tedious. We loved the concept of the schoolboy dream, though could have wished that the idea was a made a little clearer in the opening scene... first interval reactions "Wonderful but why?" by the end "Brilliant - superb idea! really worked!"

This show is transformed from its very disappointing summer outing. I still find the ´concept´ crass - and there are still some extremely dodgy male fantasies about women being paraded on stage. However, the touring cast is uniformly strong, and the piece is extremely well played by the orchestra.

The chief reason for the improvement since the summer is the outstandingly acted and sung performance of the title role by Christophe Dumaux, an amazingly accomplished, witty and self-effacing performance - he even manages to create huge impact with ´Cara sposa´ despite the facile context created by the production.

If this show is ever revived for the main festival (not a priority, I would argue!) I sincerely hope Dumaux is approached to play the role again - the distinguished singer who tackled the role in the summer was simply imappropriate for this directorial interpretation. In the meantime I would encourage anyone hesitating to book for the tour to do so without delay. Apart from Dumaux, there are some extremely strong vocal performances, and the opera´s emotional narrative is delivered with great force.

A huge shame that you are touring only one opera to Stoke this year. My friend and I have attended the full set each year for many years. Our November will have quite a hole in it.I would much have preferred to hear Rinaldo than the more easily accessed La Boheme.

I agree with the previous comment concerning the number of opera's at Stoke. I saw all three last year, and yes Montiverdi was a excellent. I did actually see Rinaldo at Glyndebourne a couple of weeks ago but would certainly go again in Stoke. I would rather like to see Don Pasquale.

It would be a real treat to see Die Meistersingers in Stoke, any plans?


Andrew Brooks

Dear Glyndbourne,
We have been coming to hear you at Stoke for several years which has been wonderful, especially Montiverdi last year. We would love to hear Rinaldo this year, but we live in Shrewsbury and all the performances are hundreds of miles away. At Stoke you only offer us two performances of an old Puccini war-horse that we really don't want to hear again! It looks as though you are retreating to the south and east of England. How do you plead? Guilty as charged?
Could you suggest a travel plan that would get us to one of the Rinaldo performances without breaking the bank?
( I love Handel opera above all else).
Andrew Allott

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