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Vivaldi: Il Tamerlano

Bruno Taddia, Delphine Galou, et al; Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone (Naïve)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
Naive Il Tamerlano

Il Tamerlano, RV 703
Bruno Taddia, Filippo Mineccia, Delphine Galou, Sophie Rennert, Marina de Liso, Arianna Venditelli; Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
Naïve OP7080   144:19 mins (3 discs)


Ideas about the sole authorship of a work don’t necessarily apply to Baroque opera. It is impossible to be certain how much of Il Tamerlano, first performed at the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona in 1735 with a libretto by Agostino Piovene, was  actually composed by Antonio Vivaldi. Perhaps the opening Sinfonia and the magnificent quartet that ends Act II, possibly the music for the vanquished Ottoman Sultan Bajazet and his daughter Asteria promised to Andronico but desired by the tyrant Tamerlano. Elsewhere Vivaldi recycled his own arias and borrowed music associated with, among others, that star of the age Farinelli to ‘big-up’ his own lead singers.

And yet this musical collage sounds unmistakably Vivaldian. The stabbing chords for the strings that launch the Sinfonia, the unexpected chromatic slips, the careful word-painting and above all the care with which each aria is shaped around the singer’s voice. Astarias’s Act I aria ‘Amare un’alma ingrata’, for example, with its slow introduction, and percussive bass chords underpinning a melodic line that let’s the voice lead and the singer luxuriate in her own pain.

If the countertenor Filippo Mineccia’s Tamerlano with a thrilling drop into the chest register is primus inter pares, then Sophie Rennert as Irene his rejected bride and Delphine Galou’s Asteria match him. And the soprano Marina de Liso is magnificently equivocating as Andronico, ready to lose a world for love. Ottavio Dantone directs the Accademia Bizantina through three acts of unalloyed delight.

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Christopher Cook