Vivaldi: Bajazet

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Bajazet
PERFORMER: Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, Patrizia Ciofi, David Daniels, Vivica Genaux, Marijana Mijanovic, Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi
CATALOGUE NO: 545 6762
Bajazet belongs to Vivaldi’s last decade. Premiered at the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona during Carnival 1735, this pasticcio, or ‘musica di autori diversi’ as he called it, concerns the capture by the Tartar Emperor Tamerlano of the Ottoman Sultan Bajazet and his eventual suicide. It is a strong, often touching story with a customarily complicated love element. Vivaldi did it full justice with eloquent recitative and a judicious selection of his favourite arias from earlier operas, skilfully interwoven with others by composers, including Hasse, who embraced the fashionable Neapolitan style. Of the piece’s four missing arias, three have been replaced by arias from two other operas and a pasticcio by Vivaldi.

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Fabio Biondi and his ensemble Europa Galante have sometimes struck me as being susceptible to attention-seeking gimmickry, but here they seem to have found their métier and the result is vibrant and compelling. David Daniels is on impressive form as the cruel warrior Tamerlano. Bajazet is portrayed with poignant nobility by Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, while his daughter Asteria, loved by Tamerlano and his ally Andronico, is affectingly sung by Marijana Mijanovic. Created for his pupil and companion Anna Girò, the part was given richly expressive music. One of the loveliest arias, though, belongs to the faithful Idaspe, a virtuoso castrato role sung with panache and technical brilliance by Patrizia Ciofi. The dance-like music of her ‘Nasce rosa lusinghiera’ early in Act I was clearly favoured by Vivaldi, who used it on at least four occasions – it never fails to delight. Nicholas Anderson