Lascia ch'io pianga

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Left: Handel's 1711 autograph score showing the opening few bars of the aria; Right: 1876 aria sheet music

Lascia ch’io pianga, originally Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa, is an Italian-language soprano aria by composer George Frideric Handel that has become a popular concert piece.

Its melody is first found in Act III of Handel’s 1705 opera Almira as a sarabande[1]; the score for this can be seen on page 81 of Vol. 55 of 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 II 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). Four years after that, in 1711, Handel used the music again, this time for his London opera Rinaldo and its Act II aria Lascia ch’io pianga, or Leave Me to Weep, sung by the character Almirena, a soprano role taken by Isabella Girardeau in the premiere. Rinaldo was a triumph, and it is with this work that the aria is chiefly associated.

The text and lyrics for the 1707 version of the aria are:

Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa;
tu vai cercando il tuo dolor.
Canuta brina per mano ascosa,
giungerà quando nol crede il cuor.

Leave the thorn, take the rose;
you go searching for your pain.
Gray frost by hidden hand
will come when your heart doesn't expect it.

Handel’s 1739 pasticcio Giove in Argo also has a Lascia la spina aria, but a shorter one, less known, and set to a different melody.


The aria is written in the key of F major with a time signature of 3
and a tempo marking of Largo. In the first edition published by Walsh, the orchestration is unspecified (see Walsh first edition), giving only a solo melody line above an unfigured bass line. There is the mention 'violins' at bar 23 where the singer breaks (bar 31 in most modern editions which include an 8-bar introduction). Chrysander claimed to have worked from Handel's 'performance score' and stated that the autograph manuscript had been lost (although RISM state that the British Library hold a fragment of the autograph missing 53 bars); Chrysander's edition shows two violins and a viola with a cello. He does not provide figuring for the continuo. It is not clear whether he invented the additional string parts himself (as he often did) or found them in the performance score to which he referred. Most modern editions seem to be based upon Chrysander's version, as can be seen from the different placement of certain syllables in the melismata in his version and in the Walsh first edition.

A performance takes about five minutes.

The aria has been recorded by many artists, and is featured in several films including Farinelli;[2] All Things Fair by Bo Widerberg;[3] L.I.E. by Michael Cuesta; Antichrist[4] and Nymph()maniac, both by Lars von Trier.


The libretto was written by Giacomo Rossi.

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 that I may sigh for

Let my sadness shatter
these chains
of my suffering,
if only out of pity.


  1. ^ Dean and Knapp, pp. 176–78
  2. ^ Haynes, Bruce (2007). The End of Early Music. US: Oxford University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-195-18987-6. 
  3. ^ Lærerinden – Musikstycken (in Swedish). Swedish Film Institute. Retrieved on 28 July 2008.
  4. ^ Antichrist Pressbook (PDF). Artificial Eye. Retrieved on 28 July 2009.


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