Tamerlano - Further information
Georg Friedrich Händel
Nicola Francesco Haym after Agostino Piovene and Ippolito Zanelli
World première on October 31, 1724 at King's Theatre Haymarket, London
The successful Handel Renaissance at the Bavarian State Opera has given rise to an unexpected international popularity of the stage works of this great German-British composer. Handel, following Mozart, Wagner and Strauss, belongs to Munich and has become the fourth ‘house composer’.
In collaboration with librettist Nicola Haym and between ‘Giulio Cesare’ and ‘Rodelinda’, Handel created the opera ‘Tamerlano’ in 1724 for his theatre, ‘The London Royal Academy’. Many of his works concern the behaviour of and the response to political authority. Thus, ‘Tamerlano’ is about the complacency of a Tartar prince of the same name who abuses his power. On stage this creates an exciting tension between the action of the despot and the reaction of the suppressed. Using this material Handel captured the mood of the time, as London was a town of great changes urging a re-evaluation of the relationship between monarch, nobility and bourgeoisie.
Tamerlano finally realises that he cannot force Asteria to love him. This realisation emerges through a theatre coup never before performed on an opera stage: for Bajazet, prisoner of Tamerlano and Asteria’s father, chooses suicide over oppression. With Bajazet’s famous tenor aria just before his death, Handel appears to anticipate by one hundred years the belcanto death scenes of Bellini and Donizetti.