Rinaldo

Synopsis

    Place: in and around the city of Jerusalem during the First Crusade
    Time: 1099

Act 1

The Crusader army under Goffredo is laying siege to Jerusalem, where the Saracen king Argante is confined with his troops. With Goffredo are his brother Eustazio, his daughter Almirena, and the knight Rinaldo. As Goffredo sings of the coming victory, Rinaldo declares his love for Almirena, and Goffredo confirms that she will be Rinaldo's bride when Jerusalem falls. Almirena urges Rinaldo to fight boldly and assure victory. As she departs, a herald announces the approach of Argante from the city. Eustazio surmises that the king fears defeat; this seems to be confirmed when Argante, after a grandiose entrance, requests a three-day truce to which Goffredo graciously assents. After Goffredo leaves, Argante ponders his love for Armida, the Queen of Damascus who is also a powerful sorceress, and considers the help her powers might bring him. As he muses, Armida arrives from the sky in a fiery chariot. She has divined that the Saracens' only chance of victory lies in vanquishing Rinaldo, and has the power, she claims, to achieve this.

The scene changes to a garden, with fountains and birds, where Rinaldo and Almirena are celebrating their love. They are interrupted as Armida appears, and wrests Almirena from Rinaldo's embrace. Rinaldo draws his sword to defend his lover, but a black cloud descends to envelop Armida and Almirena, and they are borne away. Rinaldo mourns the loss of his loved one. When Goffredo and Eustazio arrive they comfort Rinaldo, and propose they visit a Christian magician who may have the power to save Almirena. Rinaldo, left alone, prays for strength.

Act 2

A sea shore. As Goffredo, Eustazio and Rinaldo near the magician's lair, a beautiful woman calls from her boat, promising Rinaldo that she can take him to Almirena. Two mermaids sing of love's delights, and urge Rinaldo to go in the boat. He hesitates, unsure what to do, and his companions attempt to restrain him. Angry at the abduction of his loved one, Rinaldo enters the boat, which immediately sails off. Goffredo and Eustazio are shocked at Rinaldo's impulsiveness and believe that he has deserted their cause.

In Armida's palace garden, Almirena mourns her captivity. Argante joins her and, overcome by her beauty, confesses that he now loves her. He promises that as proof of his feelings he will defy Armida's wrath and secure Almirena's freedom. Meanwhile Rinaldo is brought before the triumphant Armida. As he demands that Almirena be set free, Armida finds herself drawn to his noble spirit, and declares her love. When he angrily rejects her she uses her powers to assume Almirena's form, but Rinaldo suspects trickery, and departs. Armida, resuming her own appearance, is furious at her rejection yet retains feelings of tender love. She decides on another attempt to ensnare Rinaldo, and transforms herself back into Almirena's shape, but then encounters Argante. Believing her to be Almirena, Argante repeats his earlier promises of love and freedom. Swiftly resuming her own form, Armida denounces his infidelity and vows vengeance. Argante defiantly confirms his love for Almirena and declares that he no longer needs Armida's help. She departs in a fury.

Act 3

A mountainside, at the magician's cavern. Goffredo and Eustazio are told by the Magician that Almirena is being held captive in Armida's palace at the mountain-top. Ignoring the magician's warning that they will need special powers, the pair set off for the palace but are quickly driven back by Armida's monsters. The magician then gives them magic wands that transcend Armida's power, and they set off again. This time they overcome the monsters, but as they reach the gates of the palace it disappears, leaving them clinging to a rock in the midst of a stormy sea. They climb the rock and descend out of sight.

In the palace garden Armida prepares to kill Almirena. Rinaldo draws his sword, but Armida is protected from his wrath by spirits. Suddenly Goffredo and Eustazio arrive, but as they touch the garden with their wands it disappears, leaving them all on an empty plain with the city of Jerusalem visible in the distance. Armida, after a last attempt to kill Almirena, also disappears as Rinaldo strikes her with his sword. The remaining four celebrate their reunion, while Goffredo announces that the attack on Jerusalem will begin the next day.

In the city, Argante and Armida, in danger from a common enemy, become reconciled and prepare their troops for battle. Goffredo's army advances, and battle finally commences. After a struggle for supremacy, Jerusalem falls to Goffredo; Argante is overcome and captured by Rinaldo, while Armida is taken by Eustazio. Rinaldo and Almirena celebrate their love and forthcoming marriage. Armida, accepting her defeat, breaks the wand which is the source of her evil power and together with Argante embraces Christianity. Goffredo expresses his forgiveness to his beaten foes and sets them free, before victors and vanquished join in a chorus of reconciliation.

Revisions, 1717 and 1731

The opera was frequently revised, most particularly in 1717 and in 1731; modern performances are usually a conflation of the versions available. Up to and including 1717, these changes had no significant effect on the plot. In the 1731 version, however, in Act 2 Armida imitates Almirena's voice rather than assuming her appearance, and Argante declares his love to Almirena's portrait rather than to her face. In Act 3 the marches and the battle scene are cut; Armida and Argante remain unrepentant and vanish in a chariot drawn by dragons before the conclusion.

Program and cast

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Teatro La Fenice

Teatro La Fenice ("The Phoenix") is an opera house in Venice, Italy. It is one of the most famous theatres in Europe, the site of many famous operatic premieres. Its name reflects its role in permitting an opera company to "rise from the ashes" despite losing the use of two theatres (to fire and legal problems respectively). Since opening and being named La Fenice, it has burned and been rebuilt twice more.

 

The Teatro La Fenice was founded in 1792. In the nineteenth century, the theatre staged the world premieres of numerous operas, including Rossini’sTancredi, Sigismondo and Semiramide, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) and Beatrice di Tenda, Donizetti’sBelisario (Belisarius), Pia de’ Tolomei, and Maria de Rudenz, and Verdi’s Ernani, Attila, Rigoletto, La traviata and Simon Boccanegra. 

 

In the last century, the Fenice has also placed a special emphasis on contemporary productions, welcoming the world premieres of Stravinski’s The Rake’s Progress, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Prokofiev’s L’angelo di fuoco (The Fiery Angel), Nono’s Intolleranza (Intolerance) and Maderna’s Hyperion. Recent premieres have included Kagel’s Entführung im Konzertsaal (Kidnapping in the Concert Hall), Guarnieri’s Medea, Mosca’s Signor Goldoni and Ambrosini’s Il killer di parole (The Killer of Words). 

With a seating capacity for over one thousand people, the Fenice boasts excellent acoustics (which were improved when the theatre was rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1996), a 98-member orchestra and 66-person opera chorus, a dedicated local audience and a large international following. The theatre is a leading creative venue, staging more than one hundred opera performances per year, a major symphonic season conducted by prominent conductors from across the globe (including frequent collaborations with Myung-Whun Chung, Riccardo Chailly, Jeffrey Tate, Vladimir Temirkanov and Dmitrij Kitajenko), the full cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler, a contemporary repertoire focused especially on Venetian artists such as Nono and Maderna, ballets, and chamber music concerts. 

The theatre is owned by the Municipality of Venice and managed by the Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, a private body whose members include the State of Italy, the Veneto region, the Municipality of Venice and numerous public and private institutions. The foundation also runs a second theatre, the Teatro Malibran (formerly known as the Teatro di San Giovanni Grisostomo), which dates back to 1678.

The leadership of the Fondazione includes General Manager Cristiano Chiarot, Artistic Director Fortunato Ortombina, Principal Conductor Diego Matheuz and Chorus Master Claudio Marino Moretti.

 

Transport

 

Vaporetto 
from Tronchetto: line 2 
toward Rialto bridge, St Mark and Lido  

from Piazzale Roma and the Santa Lucia train station: line 1 or line 2 
toward Rialto bridge, St Mark and Lido  

stops: take line 1 to Rialto bridge, St Angel, St Samuel or St Mark (Vallaresso); 
or take line 2 to Rialto bridge or St Mark (Vallaresso)  


Alilaguna public transportation service from the Marco Polo airport - take the orange line to Rialto bridge or the blue line to St Mark (Vallaresso)
 

Parking: although you can drive to Venice, cars, bicycles and mopeds are not permitted in the city. You can leave your vehicle in one of the parking garages on Tronchetto or in Piazzale Roma: 

 

Entrances

La Fenice Opera House has two entrances: 
- the stage door is for theatre staff and performers only and is manned by a doorman;
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Lifts

The boxes, gallery and family circle can be reached via elevators

Access 

The theatre complies with all legal regulations regarding special needs accessibility. 

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