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Venice, Vivaldi's Bajazet at the Teatro Malibran, directed by Federico Maria Sardelli
The direction is entrusted to Fabio Ceresa, repertoire specialist
Organized by: La Fenice Theater Foundation

La Fenice Theater Foundation Presents

“ Opera and Ballet Season 2023 – 24 ”
TO Venice the La Fenice Theater  continues its fascinating journey to rediscover the Vivaldi opera artist: to the successful series of performances proposed in past seasons – Dorilla in Tempe (2019), Farnace (2021), Griselda (2022) and Orlando furioso (2018, 2023) – a further piece is now added with the new staging of The Bajazet (Il Tamerlano), drama for music in three acts with a libretto by Agostino Piovene, inspired by the figure of the powerful sultan of the Ottoman empire Bajazet and the Mongolian leader Tamerlano.

The opera, on stage at Malibran Theater dfrom 7 to 15 June 2024 for five performances, it is entrusted to two authoritative specialists of this repertoire: the director Federico Maria Sardelli, at the head of theOrchestra of the Teatro La Fenice, and the director Fabio Ceresa, which uses scenes from Massimo Checchetto, of the costumes of Joseph Palella, of the lighting design of Fabio Barettin and video design of Sergio Metals. The cast is notable, with  Sonia Prina in the role of Tamerlane, Renato Sweets ini that of Bajazet, Loriana Castellano like Asteria, Raffaele Pe like Andronicus; Lucia Cyril will be Irene; Valeria La Grotta, Hydaspes.

The Bajazet (RV 703) by Antonio Vivaldi debuted at Verona Philharmonic Theater in the Carnival Season of 1735; having received the commission from the Philharmonic Academy, the composer chose a libretto by Augustine It's raining based on the tragedy of Jacques Pradon, "Tamerlan or The Death of Bajazet“ (1675). The subject, based on historically established facts, was well known to him as it had already been set to music by Francesco Gasparini and performed at the San Cassiano Theater in Venice in 1711. The action of the drama takes place in Bursa, the capital of the defeated Ottoman sultan. The ruler Bajazet was captured by Tamerlane. The latter, despite having established nuptial agreements with Irene, princess of Trebizond, whom he has never seen, is in love with Bajazet's proud daughter, Asteria. A Greek prince employed by Tamerlane, Andronicus, is also in love with Asteria, who reciprocates his love. Although Bajazet indignantly rejects the hypothesis of a marriage between his daughter and the hated Tamerlane, Asteria pretends to support this project in order to assassinate the enemy. His revenge, however, is foiled by Irene, who arrives in the city under a false name. Grateful, Tamerlano agrees to marry Irene and, moved by the news of Bajazet's death by suicide, allows the wedding between Asteria and Andronico.

To musically realize the libretto, Vivaldi resorted to the form of the 'pasticcio'. This term refers to both the revival of a show in which some pieces have been replaced with respect to the original, and a libretto originally conceived as an assembly of pieces of various origins. In this case, Vivaldi tried to make his drama acceptable to the tastes of more up-to-date spectators by incorporating arias written by other musicians into the libretto. In doing so, however, he also wanted to symbolically illustrate the story: to the 'positive' and in their own way faithful and integral characters (Bajazet, Asteria, Idaspe), the musician attributed arias he himself composed, while to the representatives of hegemonic oppression (Tamerlane, Andronico, Irene) he mainly entrusted arias by 'Neapolitan' authors such as Hasse, Giacomelli, Porpora, Riccardo Broschi.

«So let's face the mess for what it is – comments the director Fabio Ceresa –. If each of these arias is taken from a different opera - and therefore from a different show - let's try to conceive of this musical genre as a real collage of suggestions and ideas. A rich buffet in which each tray presents its own delicious specialty which differs from all the others in terms of ingredients and preparation. In our staging the narrative thread will be maintained in the performance of the recitatives. Here the interpreters will bring the text to life by telling the story of Bajazet to the public: but they will do so in neutral costume, 'as a singer', almost as if we were attending an Italian rehearsal or an opera in concert form. Twenty-five entr'actes will alternate within this structure, each different from the other in style, rhythm, design and conception. Twenty-five numbers that could be taken from twenty-five different shows in terms of setting, interpretation and stagecraft language. Those who know the program Carosello, broadcast on public television networks in the Sixties and Seventies, will remember how it was structured: a series of short films - often directed by famous directors such as Fellini, Pasolini, Magni, Olmi - unrelated to each other and of very short duration, which skilfully conveyed an advertising message using a small self-contained story. The same will happen with Il Bajazet: twenty-five musical numbers, twenty-five entr'actes, all different from each other, twenty-five miniature operas."

So does the director Federico Maria Sardelli illustrates this score, which belongs to Antonio Vivaldi's last creative phase: «We must keep in mind that Vivaldi is a constantly evolving author. We have a somewhat stereotyped and monotonous image of him: we draw on the few great works that make him famous today - such as the Seasons, or the Estro Armonico - and we crush it on a stylistic image that always seems the same as itself . In truth, however, Vivaldi continually changes his skin and gives his language a strong evolution: from his first compositional attempts, such as the Op. I sonatas, to his last gallant symphonies, we have the impression of finding ourselves in front of different composers. Unlike Handel, who manages to cite himself thirty or forty years later, or other composers who are more stable in style, Vivaldi continually changes and updates himself. The Bajazet is precisely an example of how much his taste had changed, compared for example to Ottone in villa or more generally to the first theatrical rehearsals. This continuous change leads him to resemble the composers who were fashionable in those years, fifteen or twenty years younger than him, that is, the exponents of that Neapolitan school that was all the rage in Venice and Italy. Already sixty years old, Vivaldi is still able to modify his taste to stay on the crest of the wave."


(Photocredit, ©Michele Crosera)
Venice, Vivaldi's Bajazet at the Teatro Malibran, directed by Federico Maria Sardelli

Other information of interest

The 'premiere' on Friday 7 June 2024 (7 pm) will be broadcast in deferred on Rai Radio3.


Characters and performers
Bajazet Renato Dolcini
Tamerlane Sonia Prina
Asteria Loriana Castellano
Andronicus Raffaele Pe
Irene Lucia Cirillo
Hydaspes Valeria La Grotta
Mimi Giovanni Imbroglia, Marco Mantovani

Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice director Federico Maria Sardelli

direction Fabio Ceresa
scenes Massimo Checchetto
costumes Giuseppe Palella
light designer Fabio Barettin
video designer Sergio Metalli

New La Fenice Theater setup


The Bajazet (The Tamerlane)
of Antonio Vivaldi

drama for music in three acts
with a libretto by Agostino Piovene

first ever performance
Verona, Philharmonic Theatre, 1735

critical edition edited by Bernardo Ticci



7 June 2024 at 7pm 'before'
performances 9 and 15 June at 5pm
11 and 13 June at 7pm

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