Vivaldi: Bajazet

Vivaldi: Bajazet

by Fabio Biondi
     
 
With this exemplary recording of Bajazet, it's safe to say that what once seemed a trickle of Vivaldi operas has become a flood. Staged for the 1735 carnival season in Verona, where Vivaldi mounted several successful productions in the 1730s, the opera relates the tragic story of Bajazet, the Ottoman sultan who was defeated in the early 15th century by the

Overview

With this exemplary recording of Bajazet, it's safe to say that what once seemed a trickle of Vivaldi operas has become a flood. Staged for the 1735 carnival season in Verona, where Vivaldi mounted several successful productions in the 1730s, the opera relates the tragic story of Bajazet, the Ottoman sultan who was defeated in the early 15th century by the cruel despot Tamerlano, and depicts the love triangle that forms between Bajazet's daughter, Asteria, a scheming Tamerlano, and the prince Andronico. (The same libretto was also taken up in Handel's Tamerlano.) Like numerous other operas of the period, Bajazet is not a one-man work but a pasticcio -- a score that draws on multiple composers' music. Adapting to changing operatic tastes that were spurred on by new melodic currents from Naples, the Venetian Vivaldi gathered music by Hasse, Giacomelli, and Broschi (the brother of the famed castrato Farinelli), as well as from his own pen, to form Bajazet -- a practice that raised no eyebrows in the Baroque, when the concept of copyright law was as far off as cell phones and e-commerce. It was this shifting style, in fact, that led to Vivaldi's descent from favor at the end of his life, and revealingly, he provided his own arias for the honorable characters here (Bajazet, Asteria, and the loyal Idaspe) while relegating the Neapolitan music to the ignoble ones (Tamerlano, his betrothed, Irene, and Andronico). The cast of singers, splendidly accompanied by Fabio Biondi and his lively ensemble, Europa Galante, contains several early-music luminaries, and it's hard to imagine a more effective or proficient ensemble. The marvelous baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo makes a sympathetic title character, while the countertenor David Daniels, as Tamerlano, works his usual magic. The three mezzo-sopranos -- Vivica Genaux as Irene, Marijana Mijanovic as Asteria, and Elina Garanca as Andronico -- each offer stunning moments, especially Genaux's almost unbelievable virtuosity in "Qual guerriero in campo armato." Soprano Patrizia Ciofi takes the relatively minor role of Idaspe but shines in the tempest aria, "Anche il mar per che sommerga," which also appears on Cecilia Bartoli's Vivaldi Album. A bonus DVD, taped at the recording sessions, offers footage of each of the six singers in a solo aria, and the booklet contains a full translation and historical note. A must for early-music followers; and Baroque-o-phobes, too, are strongly encouraged to dip their toes into these enchanting musical waters.

Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - Lindsay Kemp
The cast has hardly a weak link: David Daniels is in typically beautiful voice as Tamerlano.... There could hardly be a better way to bring this opera to life.
Time Out New York - David Shengold
Excellent recordings of Baroque rediscoveries are appearing almost too quickly to absorb, and this latest set by Fabio Biondi's spirited Europa Galante proves to be another winner.
Chicago Tribune
Bajazet is a delight from start to finish and lovers of Italian Baroque opera will not want to miss this splendid first recording.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/10/2005
Label:
Virgin Classics
UPC:
0724354567629
catalogNumber:
45676

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Bajazet (Il Tamerlano), pasticcio opera ("tragedia per musica") in 3 acts, RV703  - Antonio Vivaldi  - Fabio Biondi  - David Daniels [countertenor]  -  Europa Galante  - Alain Lanceron  - Ildebrando d'Arcangelo  - Patrizia Ciofi  - Vivica Genaux  - Marijana Mijanovic  - Agostino Piovene  -  Elina Garanca

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