Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us
Handel: Tamerlano

Bajazet: Plácido Domingo
Tamerlano: Monica Bacelli
Asteria: Ingela Bohlin
Andronico: Sara Mingardo
Irene: Jennifer Holloway

Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Real
Conductor: Paul McCreesh
Stage Director: Graham Vick
Set Designs: Richard Hudson
Costumes: Richard Hudson
Lighting: Matthew Richardson/G di Lorio

Recorded live at Teatro Real, Madrid March/ April 2008 (Production borrowed from Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino)

Opus Arte DVD OA1006D
[3 discs]

In their special Handel issue, the editor of Gramophone confesses to having had a 'blind spot' for the composer until he saw the ENO Xerxes for the second time; first time, he'd walked out after the first act... After that he "got it" and became a Handel addict.

I have had something of a similar resistance to Handel operas, but this rather austere Graham Vick production of Tamerlano at Madrid has got me hooked. We loved its lengthy all, even though taking its three acts in short sessions over three days - Paul McCreesh in his useful interview 'extra' says that's OK.

He discusses the responsiveness of the Madrid orchestra to guidance in period style and Domingo's modesty and receptiveness, working in baroque opera late in his career.

Graham Vick's production works very well on Madrid's small stage, with stylish gestures and emphasis on the dramatic heart of the complex intrigues in the recitatives, the virtuoso arias almost becoming points for listeners - not the singers - to relax a little. The singers drift down towards and into the orchestral space, giving the whole a unity and intimacy.

The Hudson staging is black, white and grey; likewise most of his costumes too, with a few moments of extravagant excess; see the eventual empress to the until-then villain of the piece entering riding a blue elephant...

The casting is brilliant, really no weaknesses. Domingo, the tragic hero Bajazet, has a presence and beauty of delivery of recitative and aria which is riveting; his death scene is memorably moving.

Domingo sang the role last year in a different production at Washington. There are plans for this Vick/Hudson production to reach Covent Garden next year.

Meanwhile, a warmly recommendable DVD set.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also Times review


Photos by Javier del Real