A magical opera by Georg Friedrich Händel

Duration - 2:30 with intermission


Zefira Valova and the Ars barocca festival orchestra present the baroque opera "Amadigi di Gaula" on the stage of the Sofia Opera

Premiere in Sofia
On 12 and 13 October is the premiere of "Amadigi di Gaula" by Georg Friedrich Händel – a magical story with dramatic twists, fantastic digital images and magical music performed on instruments of the era by the Ars Barocca Festival orchestra with concertmaster Zefira Valova. Invited are magnificent international artists: countertenor Rafał Tomkiewicz as the hero Amadigi, sopranos Carlotta Colombo as the witch Melissa and Rumyana Kostova as Princess Oriana, contralto Margherita Maria Sala as the Prince of Thrace Dardano. The performances are at 19.00 h and on 29 October at 16.00 h there is envisaged a spectacle adapted for children. The 3D mapping is entrusted to "".

The spectacle is part of the VII Ars Barocca Festival and is a joint production with the Sofia Opera, and the realization is carried out with the financial support of the Culture National Fund and the Italian Cultural Institute.

History of the opera
"Amadigi di Gaula" was the fifth Italian opera Händel composed for the English Theatre. The premiere at the King’s Theatre in London on 25 May 1715 was lavish and very successful. The King attended several performances, and by 1717 it was performed at least seventeen times. There are only four lead characters.

The first Amadigi was the famous castrato Nicolini (Nicolo Grimaldi), who was also the first performer of the role of Rinaldo. Another of Händel's stars joined as Princess Oriana. Anastasia Robinson starred in many of his operas including "Radamisto", "Giulio Cesare", "Ottone" and others. The first performer of the witch Melissa was Elisabetta Pilotti-Schiavonetti, for whom Händel wrote the parts of two other sorceresses, Armida in "Rinaldo" and Medea in "Teseo". Diana Vico was also acclaimed in those years as a vivid interpreter of Vivaldi’s and Händel’s operas. This remarkable cast ensured the work's success. But there was another reason for the triumph. The sets and stage effects were magnificent, and there was even a real fountain on stage, for which special machinery was used.

The original manuscript of the work was lost, along with the ballet parts. There is only one printing of the libretto from 1715, and two published editions of the opera from 1874 and 1971.

The performers
The Ars Barocca Festival has existed since 2007 created by Zefira Valova. Her aim is to encourage the interest of Bulgarian performers by including them in the Festival Ensemble she created and directs. It premieres dozens of works from the 17th and 18th centuries in Bulgaria. She organizes master classes of internationally recognized performers. Conducts a number of educational concerts for school-age children. Since 2011 Zefira Valova plays a violin by Lorenzo and Tomaso Carcassi, Florence 1760, given to her by the Jumpstart Jr. Foundation.

The countertenor Rafal Tomkiewicz is a graduate of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and was part of the young talent programme of the Wielki Theatre in the Polish capital. He has performed in various operas by Georg Friedrich Händel, Alessandro Stradella, Carl Orff, Peter Eötvös and others. He has been invited by well-known ensembles such as the Royal Baroque Ensemble, Mare Nostrum, Bach Consort Wien, Ensemble Zefiro, etc.

Carlotta Colombo, soprano, graduated from the Conservatory of Como, Italy and specialized in Renaissance and Baroque singing with Alessandra Ruffini and Roberto Balconi. As a concert artist she has appeared on the stages of prestigious festivals.

Rumyana Kostova, soprano, studied early music at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. She specialized at the Boris Christoff Academy in Rome. Her mentors are Darina Takova, Rita Dams, Tineke Steenbrink, Michael Chance, Francesca Aspromonte. She made her stage debut as Yvette in Puccini's "La rondine". Her repertoire includes the operas "Acis" (Lully), "Don Giovanni" and "Idomeneo" (Mozart), "The Fairy-Queen" (Purcell), "The Turn of the Screw" (Britten), and Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice".

The contralto Margherita Maria Sala is the First Prize winner of the Cesti International Singing Competition 2020 and the Special Prize from the Festival Resonanzen at the Vienna Konzerthaus. She studied choral conducting at the Accademia in Bellinzona under Marco Berrini. Her repertoire is already very rich and includes works by Georg Friedrich Händel, Antonio Vivaldi, Emilio de Cavalieri, Bernardo Pasquini and others. She has worked with the great Baroque specialists such as Alessandro De Marchi, Giovanni Antonini, Franco Fagioli, Jean-Christophe Spinosi and others.


Amadigi – A Knight
Oriana – A Princess, his beloved
Melissa – A Sorceress
Dardano – The Prince of Thrace

Act I
The knight Amadigi and his friend Dardano are in the castle of the sorceress Melissa.

Amadigi convinces Dardano to leave Melissa's enchanted abode with him. Dardano is astonished that Amadigi does not return Melissa's love. The knight replies that his heart is held captive by another beauty. He shows him the portrait of his beloved Oriana. The horrified Dardano recognizes in the painting the woman he too adores. Concealing his feelings, he goes out to tell Melissa. The sorceress herself appears and tries to hold Amadigi back by revealing her passion, and then by threatening him. But Amadigi is adamant. Learning that Oriana has been imprisoned in a tower surrounded by flames, he rushes to her rescue. Despite Dardano' treacherous resistance, Amadigi manages to enter the tower. Oriana is saved, but not for long. On Melissa's orders, she is kidnapped by demons. Amadigi is broken.

Act II
In a magical "fountain of true love," Amadigi sees Oriana caressing Dardano and, in a fit of despair, faints. Melissa brings Oriana to him. Seeing her beloved prostrate lifeless on the ground, the maiden thinks he is dead. She grabs his sword to kill herself, but Amadigi wakes up and rejects her, still convinced she is unfaithful. Melissa tries her luck with him again, but in vain. She then proposes to Dardano that he achieve his goal by trickery: she will turn him into Amadigi so that he can seduce Oriana. The Thracian prince reluctantly agrees – and is about to have his way when he sees his rival coming. He rushes towards him, sword in hand. Amadigi, defending himself, kills him. The enraged Melissa immediately grabs Oriana and threatens her with hellish torment.

Amadigi and Oriana step in front of Melissa in shackles. As they refuse to renounce each other, she prepares to kill them. But she doesn't have the heart to do it. She calls to her aid the ghost of Dardano, who emerges from the underworld to announce that the gods are protecting the couple. Love proves more powerful than magic. Defeated, Melissa ends her life. This is the end of the trials for the lovers.

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Concert Master

Zefira Valоva

Zefira Valоva