Rinaldo-cantata, op. 50

The story of the crusader Rinaldo, is one of the most famous episodes of Torquato Tasso’s epic poem Jerusalem Delivered, which inspired countless musical works. The protagonist of Tasso’s work is in fact is the witch Armida, who seduces the knight and keeps him under her control on an enchanted island. In contrast with Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s work, the librettist of Brahms’s work gave Armida a “silent” role in that she merely appears in Rinaldo’s imagination. In a series of recitativos and more or less close arias, the knight evokes and relives the events of the recent past. First he conjures up the beauties of the island, the palaces and flower gardens, which is followed by a bitter awakening (the fellow knights arriving to his rescue confront him with his softened former self by means of a diamond mirror) and his breaking with Armida, transforming the witch into a destructive demon, who destroys the palaces and everything beautiful and magical. Struck by pain, Rinaldo leaves with the knights. He finally finds relief in the powerful closing chorus, depicting the voyage home.


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