When George Frideric Handel’s crowd-pleasing 1711 three-act opera Rinaldo was revived in 1715, in the presence of “King, Prince and Princesses and a full house”, theatre management asked the audience not to call for encores as the singers were “forbidden to sing any song above once; and it is hoped nobody will call for ‘em or take it ill when not obeyed.”

Pinchgut Opera’s opening night audience was far more restrained, but judging from their rapturous applause, they were as elated with the performance as the audience of 1715.

Bonnie de la Hunty, Emma Pearson and Olivia Payne in Pinchgut Opera’s Rinaldo. Photo © Cassandra Hannagan

Rinaldo boasts a story for all time, lavish music and sumptuous, innovative orchestration. Pinchgut Opera combines these elements into a simply brilliant presentation of music and drama – with some belly laughs, too.

Rinaldo was a hit on debut with 15 performances and a whopping 53 further outings during Handel’s lifetime. It was Handel’s first opera for London, composed for London tastes, performed by some of the best singers of the time. The libretto was written by Giacomo Rossi from an outline by a young...