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Rinaldo, Handel's first Italian opera, is still arguably his best Italian opera. Or, to put it another way, Handel found what worked -- hair-raising arias, affecting harmonies, colorful orchestrations, wild special effects, and a story that his English audiences would accept as a compliment to their own magnificence -- and he stuck with it until the English were sick of Italian operas. Handel's Rinaldo works wonderfully well in this recording directed by Rene Jacobs. Jacobs makes the drama work, making one believe in the ...

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