Its melody is first found in act 3 of Handel’s 1705 opera Almira as a sarabande;[1] the score for this can be seen on page 81 of Vol. 55[2] of Friedrich Chrysander. Handel then used the tune for the aria “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa”, or “Leave the Thorn, Take the Rose”, for the character Piacere in part 2 of his 1707 oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (which was much later, in 1737, revised as Il trionfo del Tempo e della Verità).[3]

Four years after that, in 1711, Handel used the music again, this time for his London opera Rinaldo and its act 2 aria “Lascia ch’io pianga”, or “Let me weep”, sung by the character Almirena. Rinaldo was a triumph, and it is with this work that the aria is chiefly associated.

The aria is written in the key of F major with a time signature of 3/2 and a tempo marking of Largo. In the first edition published by John Walsh, the orchestration is unspecified,[4] giving only a solo melody line above an unfigured bass line.



Lascia ch’io pianga
mia cruda sorte,
e che sospiri
la libertà.

Il duolo infranga
queste ritorte,
de’ miei martiri
sol per pietà.

Let me weep over
my cruel fate,
and let me sigh for

May sorrow shatter
these chains,
for my torments
just out of pity.