Lyric Opera· Chicago · february 2012

Francisco's second production of this brilliantly visual piece, composed by Handel to show off scenic effects and delight with vocal virtuosity and successful arias. The production takes the concept first thought of for the older New York City Opera production and pushes it further into the realm of a Baroque musical spectacular. The Louis Desiré set is a festival of images and light (by Bruno Poet) and the visual and musical energy is augmented by Ana Yepe's versatile choreography.

This Chicago premiere of the piece has been a chance for Francisco to reunite with David Daniels and Harry Bicket, with whom he formed his Handel style and explored many of the composer's pieces in previous productions, including the earlier Rinaldo. The show has been a huge critical and popular success and boasted a perfect cast. A never before heard aria from the score's appendices was added at the start of act 3 providing a better exploration of Almirena's character and giving more depth to the act.


Production Team
Set: Louis Desiré
Costumes: Louis Desiré
Lighting: Bruno Poet
Conductor: Harry Bicket

David Daniels, Sonia Prina, Iestyn Davies, Julia Kleiter , Elza Van den Heever and Luca Pisaroni, Ryan Belongie, Jim Kryshak, Kiri Deonarine, Cecilia Hall, Jennifer Jakob

"An edgy new production by director Francisco Negrin that went some distance in reimaging the piece for a modern audience, while providing a glorious evening of Baroque vocalism.... Negrin fielded a wealth of clever touches."

Mark Thomas Ketterson
Opera News
June 2012

"Negrin is one of the currently most inventive, imaginative and substantive operatic stage directors of our time....Despite Peter Sellars’ conviction that “Hercules” and “Griselda” can yield morals for contemporary society, I find these baroque stories simply barren of any modern meanings. I’m much more inclined to go with Negrin’s presentation of absorbing, even if fantastical, frameworks for piecing together Handel’s supremely beautiful music. Negrin’s 18th century opera fantasy world works"

William Burnett
Opera Warhorses
March 2012


"In his whimsical and moving new production for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which opened here on Wednesday evening, the director Francisco Negrin takes “Rinaldo” far from the realm of Muslim-Christian conflict, as he explains in the program. This breakthrough 1711 work, Handel’s first opera for London and the first Italian opera written to order for a London theater, was conceived as a fantastical entertainment full of showpiece arias for virtuoso singers. Handel’s score has musical riches galore and psychological insights that expose the absurdities of human relations. Still, “Rinaldo” was primarily meant to dazzle audiences. This Lyric Opera production does just that."

Anthony Tommasini
The New York Times
March 2012

"The genius of this production is its perfect balance of music, movement and imagery. Opera fans do get their dramatic moments (most Handel scores are a feast of beautiful arias and improvisations), but here the drama is complemented by stylish choreography, graphic costumes and delightfully surreal set pieces that create the kind of compelling visuals contemporary audiences connect with. While staging like this makes the material more accessible, it also risks overwhelming the music. Pulling it off requires musicianship, acting, and production chops that are truly top-notch. Rinaldo has them all in abundance."

Lori Dana
Chicago Stage Review
March 2012


"Cut to the Lyric Opera of Chicago today, where many of the world’s great singers have been gathered to perform a glistening new production of the opera, whose story and characters seem as contemporary as the universal emotions they express. Plot points that might obscure the beauty of the music are camped up to make them fresh. For the original production, GM Hill had been determined to use the theater’s machinery to combine the virtuosity of Italian singing with the extravagance of 17th century masque. The Lyric staging succeeds beyond Hill’s and Handel’s wildest dreams...Negrin and Louis Desire have gone back to the opera's origins and make Rinaldo beautiful fun. "

Susan Hall
March 2012