By Antonio Vivaldi

libretto by Agostino Piovene

4, 5, 7 & 8 July 2015

Pinchgut's winter season presents Vivaldi’s passionate and powerful Bajazet which was first performed in Verona in 1735. Weaving together arias by his colleagues and his own freshly composed numbers, Vivaldi has fashioned a sublime tragedy with amazing virtuosic arias, heartfelt lyricism, defeat, betrayal, love, lust and poison. Very rarely performed, this will be the first performance in the Southern Hemisphere and sees the return of Hadleigh Adams in the title role alongside American counter-tenor Christopher Lowrey.

Tamerlano, Emperor of the Tartars, has conquered Bajazet, Emperor of the Turks. Tamlerlano loves Bajazet's daughter Asteria, even though he is promised to marry Irene, Princess of Trebisond. Tamerlane hands Irene to Andronico, his Greek ally. However Andronico also loves Asteria. Bajazet is furious at his daughter's apparent treachery, but she reveals a plan to kill Tamerlano on their wedding night. The plot is discovered and father and daughter are jailed. Reduced to slavery, Asteria is about to poison Tamerlano while serving him, but Irene warns him in time. Tamerlano rewards Irene with a new promise of marriage, and orders Asteria, Bajazet and Andronico to taken away. Bajazet kills himself, and Asteria begs for death as well. Instead Tamerlano has mercy on her, giving her and the Greek throne to Andronico whom he forgives for his earlier attempt to intercede on Asteria's behalf. 

Cast & Crew

Bajazet                           Hadleigh Adams
Tamerlano                      Christopher Lowrey
Irene                               Helen Sherman
Asteria                            Emily Edmonds
Andronicus                     Russell Harcourt
Idaspe                            Sara Macliver

Orchestra of the Antipodes - Matthew Greco, leader

Conductor                      Erin Helyard 
Director                          Thomas de Mallet Burgess 
Designer                        Alicia Clements
Lighting Designer          Matthew Marshall


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1] Long Synopsis
The action takes place in the Royal Palace at Bursa, the capital of Bithynia, where the Ottoman Sultan Bajazet, defeated by the Tartar Emperor Tamerlano, is being held prisoner.

Act One
Bajazet has made up his mind to die, and asked Andronico – a Greek prince allied to Tamerlano but also in love with Asteria (who loves him in return) – to take care of his daughter after his death. Tamerlano – who is not aware of Andronico’s feelings towards Asteria, confides in him the passion that he too feels for her, and tells him that he has decided to renounce Irene, the Princess of Trebizond, and marry Asteria instead. He asks Andronico to act as his envoy by pleading his suit to Bajazet and his daughter, and offers him the Greek throne and Irene’s hand in exchange. Unaware that this declaration has plunged Andronico into despair, and sure of the success of his mission, Tamerlano reveals his feelings to Asteria. She is convinced that her lover has betrayed her and informs her father of Tamerlano’s intentions. Bajazet immediately offers to give his head in exchange for his daughter’s freedom. At this point, Irene arrives at the palace and gives vent to her fury when she learns that she has been slighted. But she soon calms down when Andronico assures her of his support and suggests that she keep her identity a secret in order to be able to influence the course of events.

Act Two
Andronico learns from Tamerlano that Asteria has accepted his offer. Devestated he tries to justify himself to his betrothed, who scornfully dismisses him. Tamerlano tries to justify himself to Irene, who has introduced herself to him in the guise of her own confidante. The princess is comforted by Asteria but is still overcome with despair. Bajazet then learns from Andronico that Asteria is about to ascend the throne, and gives full vent to his fury. Forcing himself into his daughter’s presence, he voices his contempt for her in an outpouring that is full of pathos. Asteria is distraught and produces the dagger she has concealed under her dress with the intention of using it to kill the tyrant on their wedding night. Father and daughter are immediately arrested and thrown into prison.

Act Three
Bajazet and Asteria plan to kill themselves by means of a poison that Bajazet has kept hidden. Andronico plucks up his courage to defy his master by telling him of his love for Bajazet’s daughter. Tamerlano feels humiliated and decides to put Bajazet to death and to consign Asteria to slavery, ordering her to wait upon him at table. Asteria takes this advantage to slip the poison that he father has given her into the tyrant’s goblet, but her action is observed by Irene who denounces her and now reveals her true identity. Tamerlano repays Irene by promising to marry her, and orders that Asteria be ravaged by the slaves of the harem while her father looks on. Bajazet rages impotently and then exits, leaving Irene to give free rein to her joy. But then news comes through that Bajazet has poisoned himself, and a weeping Asteria enters, begging Tamerlano to kill her too. The tyrant, horrified by this tragic turn of events, admits defeat and pardons Asteria and Andronico.

2) What is a pasticcio?

Bajazet is the first pasticcio that Pinchgut has ever produced. A pasticcio is a carefully curated selection of arias from operas of diverse composers, knitted together by newly composed recitative. It was a favoured genre in the eighteenth century and often used by impresarios when deadlines were tight and operas needed to be staged quickly. But this never meant a loss in musical quality – in fact, it may be said that this smorgasbord approach increased the diversity of styles for an audience hungry for the latest musical and vocal effects. For Bajazet in 1735 Vivaldi composed nine of the arias and all of the recitative. Seven arias are chosen from the operas of his great contemporaries Geminiano Giacomelli, Johann Adolf Hasse, and Farinelli’s brother Riccardo Broschi. The famous aria, “Sposa, son disprezzata”, once thought to be by Vivaldi but actually by Giacomelli, comes from Bajazet. Like Pinchgut’s earlier acclaimed production of GriseldaBajazet is a stunning array of virtuosic and heartfelt arias, with both vocal fireworks and melting moments of pure beauty.

First performed in 1735 in Verona

In Italian with English Surtitles

Saturday 4 July, 7pm
Sunday 5 July, 5pm
Tuesday 7 July, 7pm
Wednesday 8 July, 7pm


Buy your tickets from The City Recital Hall box office or 02 8256 2222