Ah! spietato! Recit. and Aria from Amadigi
for soprano (e'-g''), oboe, 2 violins, viola and bassi
The opera Amadigi di Gaula, was composed while Handel was living at Lord Burlington’s residence, Burlington House Piccadilly, and received its first performance in May 1715 at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket. It was Handel’s fourth opera composed for the Haymarket opera series, following Rinaldo, Il Pastor Fido, and Teseo.
According to Grove, Amadigi was comparatively successful, and was given a spectacular production ‘with variety of Dancing’ and ‘a great many Scenes and Machines’.
Like Rinaldo and Teseo, Amadigi has a plot based on magic and sorcery. Melissa the sorceress is both a passionate and a tragic figure, and her music shows matching characteristics. This aria, Ah! spietato is Melissa’s first, conveying her hurt and anger at her rejection by Amadigi, whose love she craves, and this is reflected in the contrasting parts of the aria.