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Home » Composers » German Composers » GF Handel » Handel Operas » Tamerlano


By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)


Handel. Tamerlano. (HWV 18, London 1724, 1731 version). Naïve V5373 (3 CDs, March 2014). Details. Booklet (pdf) with English translation by Marcello Simonetta. Video.  Riccardo Minasi, Il Pomo d'Oro. Asteria: Karina Gauvin, soprano; Andronico: Max Emanuel Cenčić, countertenor; Irene: Ruxandra Donose, mezzo-soprano; Tamerlano: Xavier Sabata, countertenor; Bajazet: John Mark Ainsley, tenor; Leone: Pavel Kudinov, bass. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Tamerlano. (HWV 18, London 1724). MDG 1457 (3 CDs, September 2007). George Petrou, Orchestra of Patras (period instruments). Asteria: Mata Katsuli, soprano; Andronico: Mary-Ellen Nesi, mezzo-soprano; Irene: Irini Karagianni, mezzo-soprano; Tamerlano: Nicholas Spanos, countertenor; Bajazet: Tassis Christoyannis, baritone; Leone: Petros Magoulas, bass. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP

This fine new studio recording is the Tamerlano of choice. It features for the first time on a commercial release all the music performed in 1724 with none of Handel's numerous rejected drafts that appear in the HG score, and it includes as an appendix the 1731 scene for Montagnana (not in HG) that previously was recorded by Pinnock. The recording sounds similar to but better than the same group's 2006 recording of Arianna in Creta. It may have been recorded in the same hall, but there is just enough less reverberation to clean up the sound without an adverse impact on the ambiance. The orchestra sounds full and natural. You can hear the harpsichords throughout, and there is no exaggeration of the lute as on a number of recent recordings.

The vocal highlight is the singing of the baritone Bajazet, Tassis Christoyannis. His range is perfectly suited to the role (C-a'), and he breezes effortlessly through the fast divisions and ornamentations. Mary-Ellen Nesi's fine performance as Andronico, the other leading male part, is unique thus far on a HIP recording, as the role has otherwise been assigned to countertenors. While I enjoy and support falsetto singing, it is simply impossible for any countertenor to match the power of an outstanding contralto like Ms. Nesi in the lower register. The countertenor on this disk, Nicholas Spanos, delivers the finest performance of the lead role yet on a commercial HIP recording.

Three arias in the 1724 version recorded here were not performed by either Gardiner, Malgoire or Pinnock: Tamerlano's "Dammi pace" (HG, p. 18); Asteria's "Se potessi" (HG, p. 86); and Andronico's "Se non mi rendi" (HG, p. 112).

The booklet includes the English version from the original wordbook and a German translation by Reinhard Strohm.

Handel. Tamerlano. (HWV 18, London 1724). Erato NUM 75278 (3 LPs 1987) & ECD 88220 (3 CDs), reissued as 2292 454082 (3 CDs). John Elliot Gardner, English Baroque Soloists. Tamerlano: Derek Lee Ragin, countertenor; Bajazet: Nigel Robson, tenor; Asteria: Nancy Argenta, soprano; Andronico: Michael Chance, countertenor; Irene: Jane Findlay, mezzo-soprano; Leone: René Schirrer, bass. This has fairly good sound for a live recording, but it sounds thin and dry when compared to Petrou's recording. There are numerous cuts, but additions include rejected draft arias not recorded elsewhere, including the soprano version of Irene's "Dal crudel" (HG, p. 31); the soprano version of Irene's "Par che mi nasca in seno" with flutes rather than clarinets (HG, p. 58); Asteria's accompagnato "Mirami" (HG, p. 133); the A section only, unfortunately, of Asteria's superb pathetic aria "Padre amato" which has a fast B section (HG, p. 134); and the Tamerlano/Andronico duet "Coronata" (HG, p. 137). Nancy Argenta is my favorite Asteria of those listed here, and Michael Chance's fine Andronico is not inferior to the contralto Andronico, simply different. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Handel. Tamerlano. (HWV 18, London 1724). CBS I3M 37893 (3 LPs 1984), reissued on 3 CDs as Sony SM3K 37893. Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Écurie et La Chambre du Roy. Tamerlano: Henri Ledroit, countertenor; Bajazet: John Elwes, tenor; Asteria: Mieke van der Sluis, soprano; Andronico: René Jacobs, countertenor; Irene: Isabelle Poulenard, soprano; Leone: Gregory Reinhart, bass. This studio recording was heavily cut, but it includes a few of Handel's rejected drafts not recorded elsewhere: Leone's "Se ad un costante" (HG, p. 109) and the Irene/Tamerlano duet "Vedrò" (HG, p. 123). US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Handel. Tamerlano. (HWV 18, London 1724). Avie AV 0001 (3 CDs 2002). Trevor Pinnock, The English Concert. Tamerlano: Monica Bacelli, contralto; Bajazet: Tom Randle, tenor; Asteria: Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, soprano; Andronico: Graham Pushee, countertenor; Irene: Anna Bonitatibus, mezzo-soprano; Leone: Antonio Abete, bass. This is a rather unpleasant live recording with copious applause and stage noise and wobbly Asteria and Tamerlano. The vocal highlights are in the lesser roles -- Anna Bonitatibus as Irene and Antonio Abete as Leone, and the music performed includes the clarinet version of Irene's "Par che mi" and the scene for Montagnana, both of which are also on the Petrou recording. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Related Operas

Gasparini. Il Bajazet (Venice 1711). Libretto by Agostino Piovene. "It is a remarkable fact that [Handel] preferred Piovene's version to the rather similar drama by Salvi." Strohm, page 51.

Gasparini. Il Bajazet (Florence 1719). Gasparini re-set almost all the arias due to changes in the text. Borosini, who had sung the title role, brought the libretto and probably the score with him. When he arrived in London, Handel already had completed the autograph based on the 1711 version. "It was primarily in the opening and closing scenes that Handel borrowed from this more recent version." Strohm, page 50.

Francesco Gasparini (1661-1727). Il Bajazet (Florence 1719). Glossa (3 CDs, April 2015). Video. Details. Carlo Ipata, Auser Musici. Asteria: Giuseppina Bridelli, soprano; Irene: Ewa Gubańska, mezzo-soprano; Clearco: Benedetta Mazzucato, contralto; Zaida: Giorgia Cincirpi, mezzo-soprano; Andronico: Antonio Giovanni, countertenor; Tamerlano: Filippo Mineccia, countertenor; Leone: Raffaele Pè, countertenor; Bajazet: Leonardo De Lisi, tenor. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP


Winton Dean & J. Merrill Knapp. Handel's Operas, 1704-1726. (Oxford University Press 1995 (1987)).

R. Strohm, "Handel and his Italian opera texts." Essays on Handel and the Italian Opera. (Oxford University Press 1985).


Le magazine de l'opera-baroque page on Tamerlano

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