English Touring Opera coming to Saffron Hall with rarely performed Handel opera

Francesca Chiejina in opera Amadigi

Francesca Chiejina in Amadigi, which can be seen at Saffron Hall - Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

A new production of Handel’s Amadigi is coming to Saffron Hall this weekend.

George Frideric Handel’s extraordinary 'magic opera' was the hit of the 1715 London season, featuring some of the young composer’s most imaginative – and enjoyable – music. 

You can see it in Saffron Walden on Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31, as part of a national tour by English Touring Opera (ETO).

Francesca Chiejina in Amadigi

Francesca Chiejina in Amadigi, which can be seen at Saffron Hall - Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

Handel’s opera Amadigi is one of his finest, though rarely performed.

Based on a chivalric romance about three young people imprisoned by a sorceress, Handel's version is brimming with youthful vigour, humour and tears.

James Conway directs an outstanding cast including countertenor Tim Morgan in the title role.

The cast also includes rising star soprano Francesca Chiejina as the sorceress Melissa, fresh from her critically acclaimed BBC Proms debut.

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Handel’s exuberant opera explores the powerlessness of young people in the face of all-consuming love.

Vividly depicting the feverish highs and devastating lows of infatuation, the opera is brimming with exquisite arias and tuneful music that pre-echoes work such as the composer’s Water Music and the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.

Harriet Eyley in Amadigi

Harriet Eyley in Amadigi, which can be seen at Saffron Hall - Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

Melissa's infatuation with Amadigi drives her to imprison his love Oriana (Harriet Eyley) and torment him and his companion turned rival, Dardano (Rebecca Afonwy-Jones), with shape-shifting spells and devilish devices.

Below is a video of Francesca talking about her role and singing Melissa's aria 'Ah! Spietato'.

Two local performers will make their ETO debuts alongside the professional singers – Joseph Lewis and Guy Donald. 

They are due to share the small but important role of the boy Orgando.
 
Joseph is currently a chorister at St Edmundsbury Cathedral and Guy has attended a choral course.

Rebecca Afonwy-Jones in Amadigi.

Rebecca Afonwy-Jones in Amadigi, which can be seen at Saffron Hall - Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

The local singers were found through an open audition process, building on ETO’s strong history of working with children’s choirs and young singers from all over the country.

The national tour marks English Touring Opera’s return to live performance. 

The ETO’s period instrument orchestra partner, the Old Street Band, is conducted by Jonathan Peter Kenny.

Performances of Amadigi at Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden, Essex, are at 7.30pm on Saturday, and 4pm on Sunday

Visit www.saffronhall.com to book tickets.


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