Libretto by Agostino Piovene (1671 - 1721) with texts by Pietro Metastasio (1698 - 1782) and Apostolo Zeno (1669 - 1750)
Performed for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere, Vivaldi's passionate and powerful Bajazet is the latest Baroque masterpiece to be rediscovered by Pinchgut Opera.
This rarely performed operatic gem, premiered at the Teatro Filharmonico di Verona in Verona in 1735, features a brilliant array of arias designed to showcase the top singers of the age: from dazzling vocal fireworks to sublime melodies of exquisite beauty and tenderness.
Tamerlano, Emperor of the Tartars, has conquered Bajazet, Emperor of the Turks. Tamlerlano loves Bajazet's daughter Asteria, even though he is promised to marry Irene, Princess of Trebisond.
Tamerlano hands Irene to Andronico, his Greek ally. However Andronico also loves Asteria.
Bajazet is furious at his daughter's apparent treachery, but she reveals a plan to kill Tamerlano on their wedding night. The plot is discovered and father and daughter are jailed. Reduced to slavery, Asteria is about to poison Tamerlano while serving him, but Irene warns him in time.
Tamerlano rewards Irene with a new promise of marriage, and orders Asteria, Bajazet and Andronico to taken away. Bajazet kills himself, and Asteria begs for death as well. Instead Tamerlano has mercy on her, giving her and the Greek throne to Andronico whom he forgives for his earlier attempt to intercede on Asteria's behalf.
Bajazet is the first pasticcio that Pinchgut has ever produced. A pasticcio is a carefully curated selection of arias from operas of diverse composers, knitted together by newly composed recitative. It was a favoured genre in the eighteenth century and often used by impresarios when deadlines were tight and operas needed to be staged quickly.
But this never meant a loss in musical quality – in fact, it may be said that this smorgasbord approach increased the diversity of styles for an audience hungry for the latest musical and vocal effects. For Bajazet in 1735 Vivaldi composed nine of the arias and all of the recitative. Seven arias are chosen from the operas of his great contemporaries Geminiano Giacomelli, Johann Adolf Hasse, and Farinelli’s brother Riccardo Broschi. The famous aria, “Sposa, son disprezzata”, once thought to be by Vivaldi but actually by Giacomelli, comes from Bajazet. Like Pinchgut’s earlier acclaimed production of Griselda, Bajazet is a stunning array of virtuosic and heartfelt arias, with both vocal fireworks and melting moments of pure beauty.