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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Il Tamerlano (Il Bajazet) RV 703
Tragedia per musica in tre atti
Pasticcio, musica di autori diversi
Libretto di Agostino Piovene
Teatro Filarmonico, Verona, 1735
Critical edition by Bernardo Ticci, 2019
Variations by Ottavio Dantone
Bruno Taddia, baritone / BAJAZET
Filippo Mineccia, alto / TAMERLANO
Delphine Galou, contralto / ASTERIA
Sophie Rennert, mezzo-soprano / IRENE
Marina De Liso, soprano / ANDRONICO
Arianna Vendittelli, soprano / IDASPE
Ottavio Dantone – conductor and harpsichord
Alessandro Tampieri – concertmaster
Maria Grokhotova, Lisa Ferguson, Sara Meloni- violins I
Ana Liz Ojeda, Mauro Massa, Heriberto Delgado, Andrea Vassalle – violins II
Marco Massera, Alice Bisanti – altos
Emmanuel Jacques, Paolo Ballanti – cellos
Giovanni Valgimigli – double bass
Elisabeth Baumer, Rei Ishizaka – oboes and recorders
Alberto Guerra – bassoon
Tiziano Bagnati – archlute
Luca Marzana, Manolo Nardi – trumpets
Lionel Renoux, Olivier Brouard – horns
Stefano Demicheli – harpsichord
Vivaldi Edition vol.65 – Label: Naïve
Tamerlano – Il pasticcio
The Tamerlano was staged in Verona, at the Nuovo Teatro dell’Accademia Filarmonica, during the Carnival season of 1735.
The tragedy for music, as it is called in the title page of the printed libretto, is a typical example of pasticcio.
Vivaldi decided to write the score (which he called Bajazet in the partially autograph manuscript preserved in Turin) by inserting pages of music by other authors.
The practice of pasticcio, which nowadays may appear to be of dubious legality in respect of copyright, was quite frequent at the time, sometimes even associated with expensive and prestigious productions.
There were various forms of pasticcio: the simplest form consisted in self-recycling one’s own musical material that had already been used in other operas.
Then, there also used to be overt collaborations of several authors (sometimes the dramas in three acts could be set to music by three different authors). In other cases the insertion of music by other composers happened “to the detriment” of the authors, who ignored the operation.
Sometimes it was the singers who required the insertion of arias that were dear to them, sometimes from freshly sung works or, in other cases, their most popular arias, vastly appreciated and well-known by the public. The original text could be kept when it was compatible with the mood of the moment, otherwise it could be replaced by adapting the libretto and making metric changes if necessary.
So here is why in the Tamerlano (or Bajazet) we find, in addition to Vivaldi’s arias, music by Giacomelli, Hasse, Broschi and Porpora!
The Turin manuscript, in some cases autographed, is rather confusing, as is often the case with pasticcio. The volume contains files from other tomes, inserted and bound to form a single score.
There are also frequent deletions, modifications to the text to adapt the arias to the new booklet, afterthoughts, cuts etc. In five cases the aria in the libretto is not found in the score.
However, this is not because Vivaldi decided to delete it, as can sometimes happen. There are, in fact, clear signs that the arias existed, both because they are sometimes sung by the main characters and because they are introduced by the caption “segue l’aria” (the aria follows).
In making the new critical edition, it was decided to reconstruct the missing arias while respecting the pasticcio character of the opera.
We therefore drew on Vivaldi’s production (and in one case Giacomelli’s) looking for the arias that could best be inserted, without having to change the metric structure of the text and maintaining the emotional character of the aria required by Tamerlano’s libretto.
The result is an operation that is probably much alike what Vivaldi did at the time – and perhaps using the very same arias, who knows!