Tamerlano, live cinema screening from Madrid, October 2008

This typical Handel opera is a marvellous vehicle for the singers, and the music is a delight, though the plot is nonsense. Tamerlano is in love with Asteria, daughter of the Ottoman Sultan Bajazet, both of whom are his prisoners, but Asteria and the Greek prince Andronico are in love, and so as long as Tamerlano can get over his obsession, avoid being killed by Asteria, and take pleasure in his betrothed Irene, all might be well. It takes three acts to get there, but in the meantime we are treated to some excellent singing. Placido Domingo was wonderful as Bajazet, full of emotion and determination, and Monica Bacelli was superb as Tamerlano, looking and acting the part in the way Handel surely intended. Her several costumes were a knockout, and colourful costumes were one of the delights of this production. They contrasted well with the spare white staging dominated by a large white globe under a huge foot, along with the black costumes of the courtiers. We have Richard Hudson as designer to thank for all this, and Graham Vick for his excellent direction. He has given us, or rather the Royal Opera in Madrid, a superb production. Asteria was well performed and sung by Ingela Bohlin, Andronico equally well performed by Sara Mingardo, and Irene by Jennifer Holloway. Apart from Domingo, a further male voice from Luigi De Donato, as chief courtier, helped the contrast, and this was a gloriously colourful and well judged performance, excellently conducted by Paul McCreesh.

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