Amadigi and his companion Dardano wish to escape from Melissa’s magic garden but the sorceress wants to win the Gallic knight for herself. However, Amadigi has fallen in love with another woman. When he shows Dardano a portrait of his beloved, the beautiful Princess Oriana, Dardano is horrified because he loves her too. Melissa is keeping Oriana prisoner in a tower and only the very strongest hero will be able to withstand Melissa’s trials and free her.
The realm of magic, which plays a central role in many of Handel’s works, was really the domain of French opera. The portrayal of the supernatural combined mythological themes with literature and had its origin in French courtly tales or Italian epic poems. Amadigi di Gaula is based on the rare transformation of a French libretto into an Italian one. Handel’s librettist took Antoine Houdar de la Motte’s 1699 tragédie lyrique Amadis de Grèce as his source, which had been set by André Destouches. The epic poem Amadis de Gaula is based on the legend of King Arthur and the adventures of the invincible Gaul appeared in numerous sequels and expanded versions and ranked among the most popular knight-errantry tales in Europe into Renaissance times.