Teatro Real’s production of Handel’s vivid tragedy Tamerlano stars a Lear-like Plácido Domingo as the Turkish sultan Bajazet, defeated and taken prisoner by Tamerlano, the Tartar emperor. Displaying the uniquely heroic quality of his voice, Domingo heads a superb cast, including Sara Mingardo, Monica Bacelli, and Ingela Bohlin-all magnificently responsive to Paul McCreesh’s authentic and luminous interpretation. The theatrical staging by Graham Vick provides a splendid setting for the characters and for designer Richard Hudson’s extravagant Baroque-Islamic costumes, emphasizing the brilliance of one of Handel’s finest dramatic achievements.
Baroque opera is a departure from Domingo’s usual repertoire. In a 2008 interview for NPR, he described the role of Bajazet as “ideal for my voice.” And, like many of Domingo’s signature roles, including Verdi’s Otello, the opera “has a great death scene.” He added: “In real life, I like to enjoy. But on stage … I am a masochist! The more I suffer, the better I can deliver on my music, and feelings.”