Bajazet 1280x680 © beyond Eva Vasari

Tragedia per musica in three acts (1735)

Music by Antonio Vivaldi

Libretto by Agostino Piovene

In Italian with German surtitles

New production Theater an der Wien at the Kammeroper

Premiere: Saturday, 26 September 2020, 7 pm
 
Performances: 28 / 30 September & / 2 / 4 / 7 / 9 / 11 / 13 October 2020, 7 pm until 9 pm (no intermission)

Introduction matinée: Sunday, 20 September 2020, 11 am

Synopsis

The sultan Bajazet has been defeated by Tamerlano and is being held captive with his daughter Asteria in the palace at Bursa. He asks the Greek prince Andronico to look after his daughter even though the prince is an ally of Tamerlano. He knows that the two are in love. But Asteria is also coveted by Tamerlano who would even be willing to break off his engagement to Irene, princess of Trebizond, on her account. As compensation he offers to marry Irene to Andronico and install them as rulers of the conquered Byzantium, little knowing the predicament his proposal places his ally in. Irene, who has entered the palace incognito, is not the only one who flies into a rage when she learns of this humiliation: for Bajazet, too, a marriage between his daughter and his enemy Tamerlano is out of the question. Asteria, for her part, feels betrayed by Andronico since she believes that her beloved is willing to go along with Tamerlano’s plan. Nevertheless she agrees to marry Tamerlano, but only so that she can murder him at the first available opportunity. Bajazet learns from the despairing Andronico that his daughter is preparing to ascend the throne. During the coronation he bursts in, disrupting the ceremony and hurling abuse at his daughter. In her defence, Asteria shows him her dagger, thus revealing her true intentions. Andronico confesses to Tamerlano that he and Asteria are in love. The humiliated Tamerlano resolves to kill Bajazet and make Asteria his personal slave. Asteria, though, takes advantage of the first opportunity that presents itself and laces his goblet with poison. But this time her plan is thwarted by Irene, who now reveals herself. In the face of the humiliation that now threatens his daughter whose evil schemes have once more been exposed, Bajazet kills himself. Irene and Andronico beg Tamerlano to show mercy to Asteria, but she, now that her father is dead, pleads with Tamerlano to kill her as well. Tamerlano, appalled and chastened by what has happened, decrees a happy ending of sorts: Andronico and Asteria are allowed to marry, while he himself returns to Irene.

 

Antonio Vivaldi was Venetian, being born in La Serenissima in 1678. Like him, Venetian librettists had developed a marked preference for Oriental themes ever since the emergence of dramma per musica: Venice had long been the gateway to the Orient, after all. So it is not surprising that the figure of the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I (1360–1403), at once a symbol of absolute power and the defeat of the Ottoman enemy, provided a rich source of material for artistic activity in Venice. Shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, which obliged the Turks to cede considerable territories to Venice, the first operas were written about Bayezid’s defeat by Timur (Tamerlano), prince of the Tartars, in 1402. A total of approximately fifty musical works are recorded that deal with the sultan’s tragic fate. Among the composers are the greatest names of their day, such as Francesco Gasparini, George Frideric Handel, Leonardo Leo, Nicola Antonio Porpora and Niccolò Jommelli. But there is also Antonio Vivaldi’s pasticcio, as effective as it is ingenious, and notable for its great musical richness. Vivaldi and his colleagues saw the conflict between the Turks and the Tartars as an opportunity to create a dramatic and musical interpretation of the ongoing cultural battle for supremacy in the field of opera between Venice, the composer’s home town, and Naples. Vivaldi had the idea of using music from his own operas for the Turkish roles and those of their allies, while for the Mongols and their allies he chose arias by Hasse, Giacomelli or Broschi, composers associated with the new Neapolitan school. That by doing so he made the Turks, historically enemies of Venice, champions of Venetian opera, evidently did not concern Vivaldi particularly; he was much more interested in the strong character of the extraordinarily charismatic titular hero and the proud resistance he offered to his defeat and humiliation. The diversity of Bajazet reflects Vivaldi’s art with particular vividness.

Cast

Conductor

Roger Díaz-Cajamarca

Biography
Director

Krystian Lada

Biography
Set design

Didzis Jaunzems

Biography
Costume design

Natalia Kitamikado

Biography
Light design

Franz Tscheck

Biography
Bajazet

Kristján Jóhannesson

Biography
Tamerlano

Rafał Tomkiewicz

Biography
Asteria

Sofia Vinnik

Biography
Andronico

Andrew Morstein

Biography
Irene

Valentina Petraeva

Biography
Idaspe

Miriam Kutrowatz

Biography
Orchestra

Bach Consort Wien

Biography

Bajazet

Premiere: 26.09.2020

Musikalische Leitung: Roger Díaz-Cajamarca

Inszenierung: Krystian Lada

Bühne: Didzis Jaunzems

Kostüme: Natalia Kitamikado

Licht: Franz Tscheck

Fotos (c) Herwig Prammer

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