Historical Performance | Handel's "Tamerlano"
Tamerlano (concert version)
A hall in Tamerlano’s palace
Another hall in Tamerlano’s palace
A gallery in Tamerlano’s apartments
A room in Tamerlano’s seraglio
An imperial hall
SFCM Baroque Ensemble
Corey Jamason and Elisabeth Reed, directors
Corey Jamason, conductor
Marcie Stapp, Italian diction
Kathy Roberts Perl, harpsichord preparation and tuning
Sam Weiser, Baroque ensemble assistant
Michelle Cipollone, supertitles
Tamerlano, Emperor of the Tartars
Virginia Reed, mezzo-soprano
Bajazet, Emperor of the Turks
James Hogan, tenor
Asteria, Bajazet’s daughter, in love with Andronico
Karen Notovitz, soprano
Andronico, a Grecian prince
Matheus Coura, mezzo-soprano
Irene, Princess of Trebizond, Tamerlano’s fiancée
Breanna Miller, mezzo-soprano
Leone, friend to Andronico
Radames Gil, baritone
The Tartar ruler Tamerlano has defeated the Turks in battle and captured their emperor Bajazet. Tamerlano is betrothed to Irene, Princess of Trebizond (whom he has never met), but has fallen in love with Bajazet's daughter Asteria. Unknown to him, Asteria is also loved by Andronico, one of Tamerlano's allies, and she returns his affection.
Andronico tells Bajazet that he may go about freely in Tamerlano's palace, but the defiant ruler would prefer only death if it were not for his beloved daughter. Tamerlano informs Andronico that he plans to restore to him the throne of Byzantium and yield to him Irene since he has decided to marry Asteria instead. When Tamerlano tells Asteria of his intention, she misinterprets this as Andronico's willingness to trade her off in return for a crown. Andronico in turn incorrectly assumes that Asteria is willing to reject him in favor of a more prestigious marriage.
Irene arrives at the palace eager to marry Tamerlano. Andronico reluctantly informs her that he himself is to become her husband, then promises to assist her in breaking down Tamerlano's resistance instead. To accomplish this, she poses as Irene's confidante, hoping to pursue her claim to the throne.
Asteria in the meantime has devised a secret plan to murder the tyrant. This requires her to appear to accept his proposal, to the horror of both Andronico and Bajazet. But when Bajazet is ordered to prostrate himself and witness his daughter's ascent to the throne, he unwittingly spoils the plan. Asteria confesses her intention, whereupon Tamerlano orders the execution of both father and daughter.
In a change of heart, Tamerlano tells Andronico that he still wishes to marry Asteria, but is met with the prince's revelation that he is her lover, spurring the enraged ruler to include him in the punishment as well. Asteria tries to poison Tamerlano, but the attempt is thwarted by Irene.
When Tamerlano devises an even more odious punishment, Bajazet is finally driven to suicide. In his dying moments, he bids Asteria farewell and calls upon the wrath of the Furies to destroy Tamerlano. This horrific act finally appeases the Tartar's wrath; he proclaims the marriage of Andronico and Asteria, along with his own intention to marry Irene.
Synopsis by Marcie Stapp