One of the things that constantly delights me during performances of Rinaldo is what I call the 'theorbo petting zoo.' I look down from the spot booth and there's John Lenti, our lutenist, standing at the rail of the pit, explaining his instrument to yet another group of interested patrons. John is one of the kindest and most affable musicians I've ever worked with, which is a blessing, because he and his instruments sure get a lot of attention!
All the instruments of Rinaldo are either period or period-style instruments. Though we didn't have space in our program to list them all, every instrument down in the pit has its own story. Many of the string instruments are as old as this opera. The others are meticulously crafted to exactly match instruments of the period. The harpsichords are both built as reproductions of particular instruments of their day (one harpsichord by Owen Daly, the other by Byron Will, both of them Oregonians! We are lucky to have Byron tuning both instruments before and during each performance). The tiny piccolo you see on stage in one number is not the same instrument you'd hear playing 'Stars and Stripes Forever' -- ours is much harder to play!
Though all of them are, frankly, amazing, I thought I'd explain a few of the more 'alien' instruments in today's post. These are the ones that look, sound, or play the least like their modern counterparts.