Opera Scotland

Amadigi Amadigi di Gaula; Amadis of Gaul

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George Frideric Handel (born Halle, 23 February 1685; died London, 14 April 1759)


Nicola Francesco Haym.


Libretto Amadie de Grèce (1699) by Antoine Houdar de la Motte derived from 14th century Spanish sources.



First performance: London (King’s Theatre, Haymarket), 25 May 1715,

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 17 August 2003.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Amadigi was Handel’s fifth opera for the London stage, and the first following the death of Queen Anne (the Queen’s Theatre had been renamed meanwhile). It was also to be followed by a gap of five years before he resumed composing Italian operas for the Royal Academy. For Amadigi, the stage effects were spectacular, and the work was an immediate success, and revived in each of the next two seasons. It is particularly effective in the concentrated depiction of the emotions of all four major characters, and even the apparently villainous Dardano is treated with sympathy.



Amadigi, a hero in love with Oriana (alto)

Dardano, a Thracian prince, also in love with Oriana (contralto)

Oriana, a princess in love with Amadigi  (soprano)

Melissa, an enchantress in love with Amadigi  (soprano)

Orgando, a sorcerer, Oriana’s uncle  (alto)


Plot Summary

Melissa has imprisoned the princess Oriana in a tower, and Amadigi and Dardano are planning to rescue her. Dardano is aware that Amadigi loves Oriana, but is concealing from Amadigi the knowledge that they are in fact rivals. Melissa loves Amadigi, and tries to court him, first with affection, then with threats, but neither course works. She conjures up a barrier of fire, which Amadigi breaks through to be reunited with Oriana. Their joy is brief, since Melissa now introduces some demons that carry Oriana off again, leaving Amadigi grief-stricken. He now finds his way to the Fountain of Truth, which should show him if Oriana is faithful. However Melissa has tampered with this, so that Amadigi sees a vision of Oriana embracing Dardano. Melissa now brings Oriana to him, but Amadigi accuses her of perfidy, which Oriana cannot understand, and is infuriated by. Amadigi continues to reject Melissa’s advances. The sorceress now finds Dardano, still desperately in love with Oriana, and using a spell, changes him to be the image of Amadigi. He is therefore able to pay court to Oriana, but when the real Amadigi arrives they fight, and Dardano is killed. Melissa makes a final attempt to gain revenge by conjuring up the ghost of Dardano, but when this spirit appears it is to announce that the gods favour the two faithful lovers. Melissa’s powers are at an end, and she stabs herself. Oriana’s uncle now enters, to declare a happy ending, with a wedding and general rejoicing.

The Cast

 a hero in love with Oriana
 a Thracian prince
 an enchantress in love with Amadigi
 a princess in love with Amadigi

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