Handel’s reputation preceded him across the English Channel. “The news of his uncommon abilities had spread there even before his arrival,” notes his first biographer, John Mainwaring. “Many of the high nobility evinced great impatience to see an opera by his hand.” Handel met this “ardent wish” of his English contemporaries to see a work by him, the young native of Saxony, in February 1711 with his first London opera, Rinaldo. According to his librettist Rossi, Handel composed the work in two weeks “and that to absolute perfection”. The subject matter was taken from Torquato Tasso’s epic poem of the crusaders, Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), from which the tales of Rinaldo and Armida in particular were popular material for operas in the seventeenth century. But only in Handel’s opera is the knight Rinaldo the principal and eponymous character. The attempt made by the sorceress Armida to win him for herself is thwarted by his knightly virtue and his fidelity to his beloved Almirena. Handel used the aria “Lascia la spina” from the oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (1707) as Almerina’s dirge and created the famous “Lascia ch’io pianga mia cruda sorte”. The opera was Handel’s first big success in London and audiences were disappointed that he was expected to return to the court at Hanover as Kapellmeister. But Handel settled in London and in the course of the next two decades Rinaldo was revived several times.