Show artwork for Tamerlano

Tamerlano Tamerlano

Composed by George Frideric Handel

Conducted by Harry Bicket

April 30, 2021

Concert Performance

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Handel's operatic thriller, performed by a world-class team of baroque specialists

Conductor Harry Bicket and his period instrument orchestra, The English Concert, return for a concert performance of Handel’s baroque masterpiece.

Countertenor Bejun Mehta sings the title role in a psychological thriller of enslavement, infidelity and suicide.

Tickets currently available when you buy as part of a 2020/21 package.

"Bicket and The English Concert were nothing short of brilliant. Sporting perfectly tight ensemble, spacious and ringing tone, a variety of colors, gleaming strings and clean, forceful brass, they are the model of a period chamber orchestra in every sense."

New York Classical Review

Cast

Tamerlano
Bejun Mehta
Bajazet
Michael Spyres
Asteria
Sophie Bevan
Andronico
Jakub Józef Orliński
Irene
Avery Amereau
Leone
Ashley Riches

Creative Team

Conductor
Harry Bicket
Musicians
The English Concert

Read the synopsis

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Synopsis

Act One
Defeated by the Tartar emperor Tamerlano and his Greek ally Andronico, the Turkish sultan Bajazet tells Andronico that he would rather die than remain captive; only his love for his daughter Asteria prevents him from taking his own life. Tamerlano offers to restore Andronico to the throne of Greece, but Andronico asks to remain with Tamerlano to learn the art of war, not revealing his true motive—that he and Asteria have fallen in love.

Tamerlano consents, confiding in Andronico that he loves Asteria and intends to make her his wife. He asks Andronico to seek Bajazet’s consent to the marriage, in reward for which Andronico may marry Irene, Princess of Trebizond, to whom Tamerlano himself has been betrothed.

When Tamerlano reveals these plans to a stunned Asteria, she believes that Andronico has betrayed her in order to advance himself. Torn between love and duty, Andronico meets with Bajazet and Asteria to convey Tamerlano’s offer of freedom in exchange for the hand of his daughter. Bajazet rejects the proposal outright, and his defiance is only strengthened by Asteria’s revelation of Andronico’s apparent duplicity. Andronico protests that he does not deserve Asteria’s reproach, but when he seeks to reconcile with her, she angrily dismisses him. Alone, Asteria prays that her love may turn to hatred.

Arriving from Trebizond escorted by Andronico’s associate Leone, Irene is vexed that her future husband is not present to welcome her. When Andronico informs her that he is now her betrothed, Irene grows enraged at Tamerlano’s faithlessness and vows revenge. Andronico persuades her not to confront Tamerlano immediately, but to wait until the moment is right. An agonized Andronico laments that he must hide his true feelings for Asteria in order to save her father.

Intermission

Act Two
A grateful Tamerlano tells Andronico that, thanks to his intercession, Asteria has agreed to be his bride. He also says that Andronico is to marry Irene in a double wedding before the day is done. Accused by Andronico of rushing into marriage in order to gain the throne, Asteria in turn accuses him of driving her to this decision through his surrendering to Tamerlano. Andronico declares that he will turn against Tamerlano, but Asteria replies that it is too late.

Disguised as her own messenger, Irene tells Tamerlano that the Princess of Trebizond will return home unless he marries her. Tamerlano agrees to wed Irene only if she can make Asteria displease him. As Tamerlano leads Asteria to the throne, Bajazet intervenes, railing at his daughter’s treachery. Tamerlano orders that Bajazet be thrown to the ground so that his own daughter can step upon him as she ascends the throne. Asteria refuses, beseeching her father’s forgiveness, but he repudiates her. Tamerlano summons Irene for the nuptials; she arrives, still incognito, to say that the princess will not come until the path to the throne is clear, whereupon Tamerlano challenges her to make Asteria step down. Bajazet again intervenes, denouncing his daughter. Overwhelmed, Asteria descends from the throne to be with her father. Drawing a dagger, she reveals her secret plan—the assassination of Tamerlano during their first embrace. Tamerlano threatens Bajazet and Asteria with death. Reconciled, the father and daughter welcome Tamerlano’s sentence.

Intermission

Act Three
Fearing that Tamerlano may exact vengeance upon Asteria in unspeakable ways, Bajazet enters into a suicide pact with his daughter: she will poison herself at the first sign of danger from Tamerlano, and he will poison himself upon news of her death. Meanwhile, Tamerlano confesses to Andronico that Asteria’s scorn has aroused him, and he still wishes to share the throne with her. No longer willing to hide his love, Andronico declares his rivalry for the hand of Asteria, who then admits to Tamerlano that she loves Andronico. Again rejected, Tamerlano decrees that Asteria’s father shall be beheaded and that she shall marry the lowliest slave. Asteria throws herself at Tamerlano’s feet to plead for her father’s live.

The arrival of Bajazet provokes Tamerlano further, and he orders the father and daughter to be dragged to his table, where they will be humiliated before Andronico and the court. Tamerlano commands Asteria to take a cup and kneel before him as a servant. Asteria drops her poison into the cup and offers it to Tamerlano. Witnessing this, Irene stops Tamerlano from drinking and reveals her true identity. Tamerlano orders Asteria to offer the poisoned drink to either her father or her love—she must choose who will die. Instead, she raises the cup to her own lips, but Andronico dashes it out of her hand. Tamerlano orders Asteria to be taken to the slaves’ harem and thrown to the rabble while her father looks on. Bajazet thwarts this disgrace by poisoning himself, heaping curses upon Tamerlano to the end. Horror-stricken, Asteria pleads in vain with Andronico and Bajazet for a dagger so that she may join her father in death. Tamerlano orders that Asteria be arrested, prompting Andronico to threaten suicide. Tamerlano stops him, declaring himself appeased by the death of Bajazet. Tamerlano will reign with Irene by his side, and Andronico will be united with Asteria and restored to the throne of Greece.

Synopsis courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA

Running time approx: 3 hours, 30 minutes, including two intermissions

Performed in Italian with English subtitles

A presentation of The English Concert

Artwork for Tamerlano
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