The “Neapolitan” Rinaldo on stage for the first time

Nicolò Grimaldi in a period caricature

For the first time in modern days, the Festival della Valle d’Itria presents the Naples version of Handel’s Rinaldo, a “pastiche” with a Mediterranean flavour assembled in 1718 by Leonardo Leo. After the opera’s enormous success in London, the castrato Nicolò Grimaldi – the first to play the role of Rinaldo in Handel’s masterpiece – took the score to Naples, unbeknown to the composer. In Italy the opera was remodelled by Leo and other local composers, who adapted it for Neapolitan audiences of the time, adding intermezzi and comic characters.

Thought to be lost until a few years ago, the Neapolitan Rinaldo will be staged in the atrium of the Ducal Palace in Martina Franca on 29 July, 2 and 4 August. Fabio Luisi  conducts the Baroque ensemble La Scintilla  The breeches role of Rinaldo is played by mezzo-soprano Teresa Iervolino, Armida by soprano Carmela Remigio; plus  Loriana Castellano (Almirena), Francesca Ascioti (Argante), Francisco Fernández-Rueda (Goffredo), Dara Savinova (Eustazio) and, for the comic roles of Nesso and Lesbina, Simone Tangolo and Valentina Cardinali from the Piccolo Teatro of Milan. Direction is by Giorgio Sangati, scenery by Alberto Nonnato, costumes by Gianluca Sbicca and lighting by Paolo Pollo Rodighiero.