Lotario was the opening opera of the new Academy, founded after the failure and bankruptcy of the first Royal Academy of Music. There was a year without any operas whatsoever after the first Academy's failure, during which Handel made a trip to the European continent to scout for new operatic talent, and to hire singers. When he returned, he and Heidegger went back into business at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, with many of the old Academy's subscribers. The opera Lotario harks back to the operas of the Academy in its musical style and complicated opera seria plot. It features a usurping tyrant imposing his will on everyone else in the story, which is about the many trials and tribulations Lotario and others face at his hands. In the end, the tyrant Berengario repents and is forgiven so that all may end happily. The plot is rather convoluted and confusing, ineffective dramatically, and was probably difficult to be inspired about. The tyrant has much of the best solo music, but overall the opera is not one of Handel's finer. It was a miserable failure as far as the public was concerned. The London public wanted English opera. They had become enamored of the kind of spoof on opera seria represented by John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, and were sick of the pretensions of the Italians.
In an effort to cater to the tastes of Londoners, Handel included more vocal ensembles in these later works, as well as more visual spectacle. Because finances were tighter than in earlier years, attempts were made to reuse sets, costumes, and machinery from former operatic productions. The theater owned a besieged wall that could collapse on cue during a battle scene, and this was used as a special effect in Lotario. The libretto of Lotario was based on an original theatrical work called Adelaide by Salvi, which had been set by both Torri and Orlandini, and performed in Venice in 1729. These heroic libretti were often based on historical facts, and built around stiff conventions into which the composer was supposed to breath life. Handel creates a magnificent, grandiose matriarch in the person of Matilda, and an ardent lover in Idelbert. There is a standard but dramatic prison scene, and a moving love duet for Adelaide and Lotario. Some of the music was reused by Handel in other works, which is a testament to its worth.