Handel reused a good deal of the music of Silla
in his next opera Amadigi di Gaula
, produced at the King’s Theatre on 25 May 1715. The libretto, probably by Nicola Haym, was based on a French model, originally set by André Destouches in 1699. Like Rinaldo
, it has a prominent role for a jealous sorceress, Melissa, who is determined to destroy the liaison between the hero Amadis and his beloved Oriana. Melissa is not portrayed as wholly evil, but as a woman torn between a genuine but unrequited love for Amadis and a desire to punish him for rejecting her. Her dilemma is immediately apparent in her first aria ‘Ah! spietato’. In the slow main section the anguish expressed by the vocal line is poignantly echoed by a solo oboe. The mood turns to anger in the fast middle section, after which the return of the main section is especially heartrending—a fine example of the da capo principle being used for dramatic effect. At the end of Act 2 Melissa’s thoughts turn wholly to revenge as all her efforts to break up the lovers prove useless. She summons the furies of hell to her aid in the glittering aria ‘Desterò dall’ empia Dite’, Handel’s only operatic aria for soprano and solo trumpet, and a fine display of virtuosity for them both.
from notes by Anthony Hicks © 1996