Performance | The First Performances of Rinaldo | Late Baroque | Opera
The elaborate attempt to stage Rinaldo in London aroused interest from satirists Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in the Spectator. Addison, after examining the printed wordbook, reported:
‘The Opera of Rinaldo is filled with Thunder and Lightning, Illuminations, and Fireworks; which the Audience may look upon without catching Cold, and indeed without much danger of being burnt; for there are several Engines filled with Water, and ready to play at a Minute’s Warning, in case any such Accident should happen. However, as I have a very great Friendship for the Owner of this Theatre, I hope that he has been wise enough to insure his House before he would let this Opera be acted in it.’
After seeing the opera, Steele said:
‘The Undertakers of the Hay-Market, having raised too great an Expectation in their printed Opera, very much disappoint their Audience on the stage. The King of Jerusalem is obliged to come from the City on foot, instead of being drawn in a triumphant Chariot by white Horses, as my Opera-Book had promised me; … We had also but a very short Allowance of Thunder and Lightning; th’ I cannot in this Place omit doing Justice to the Boy who had the Direction of the Two painted Dragons, and made them spit Fire and Smoke … I saw indeed but Two things wanting to render his whole Action compleat, I mean the keeping his Head a little lower, and hiding his Candle.’
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