Ivor Bolton on Tamerlano – 27 February
We are now settled into a mini-routine of Stage and orchestra rehearsals beginning at 11.00am. This start time gives the stage technical crew time of effect for the change of set from the previous night’s show.
We go back to the beginning of Act 2 and I make a run-through with only a few stops for musical matters that are best fixed there and then. This Act contains what I believe is the longest recitative in all of Handel including Tamerlano’s attempted humiliation of Bajazet and Asteria’s eventual emergence as the true heroic character of the opera. The three Ariettas sung by Bajazet, Andronico and Irene propel the drama into Asteria’s noble Aria ‘Cor di padre’, which ends Act 2 – they are a dramatic masterstroke! I strongly prefer this ending of Act 2 (Handel’s original intention) then the rather light aria he subsequently inserted at this point. We make corrections for the whole Act, sometimes David (Syrus) conducting sometimes me – as I am also playing all the harpsichord recitatives – and we need continuity even in correction-time! At the end of the morning we start Act 3, covering Bajazet’s astounding B flat minor Aria (a very rare key for an Aria at this time!) and the beginning of Tamerlano’s virtuoso ‘Al dispetto’. Signor Pacini -Handel’s original Tamerlano – must have had terrific low-coloratura!!