No rest day for us, as we must make Act 3 stage and orchestra rehearsal. At least it is an evening rehearsal and it feels strange to be in a relatively empty ROH on a Sunday evening. After all one week ago the house was heaving with glitterati for the BAFTA ceremony. We are not completely alone: William Christie – doyen of baroque conductors and much-beloved-certainly by me in Handel – is visiting our rehearsal, as is Jory Vinikour, a distinguished harpsichordist. He plays for ‘Les Musiciens du Louvre’ and on occasion also for me with the Freiburger Barockorchester.
Act 3 is long, extremely varied in musical style and demanding for most of the soloists. We use every minute of the time. We also play Asteria’s final Aria ‘Padre amato’ and the glorious Duet for Tamerlano and Andronico. This was Handel’s original intention – later, this scene was cut, an act often described as a dramatic ‘tightening’. I could not disagree more. After Bajazet’s stupendous death scene, the final (superb) chorus comes too quickly without this scene of reflection for Asteria. The Duet gives the ray of optimism necessary before the profundity of the final ensemble. At the end of this rehearsal we are all tired, but pleased with the second work-through. I am pleased to see two violinists from Zubin Mehta’s ‘Maggio Musicale’ orchestra in Florence, who played this production with me, when it was created.