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Opera seria in 3 acts
Librettist, probably Nicola Francesco Haym
First performed 1715, King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London
Never performed in Frankfurt before
Sung in Italian with German surtitles
Introductory talk, in German, probably as video, available here not long before opening night and on YouTube
They hoped to enjoy the "fount of true love" amid emotional chaos. One plays a trick - and dies
Handel's opera follows in the footsteps of a knight, Amadis of Gaul, and his adventures with Oriana. The audience was lured into the world premiere in London by spirits, demons and fantastic transformations, even if these spectacular stage effects only served as a framework for an intimate chamber play with finely drawn characters. Handel and his librettist found what they needed for their new staged magic, with amorous entanglements, in a French libretto by Houdar de la Motte. Knights in shining armour were bound to make it a hit with the public. It's about four people. Amadigi and his companion Dardano, the witch Melissa and Oriana. Melissa does everything she can to try and win Amadigi away from Oriana, without success. Higher powers intervene when Melissa, driven by grief and jealousy, decides to murder the lovers. The witch ends up killing herself in despair, Handel coming up with new, poignant musical ideas for her death scene.
Handel chose high voices for his protagonists, in keeping with Italian tradition. Amadigi is described as his most intimate opera because the cast is so small. His arias reveal how precisely he managed to convey emotions: the four main characters are tossed back and forth between rage and self-defence, despair and intoxicating love.
The director Andrea Bernard tells the story, of a work that has never been performed in Frankfurt before, with the audience sitting centre stage in the Bockenheimer Depot, so easily transportable into Amadigi's mysterious universe.