The Tartar emperor Tamerlano, with the help of the Greek Prince Andronico has just defeated and captured the Turkish sultan Bajazet, who makes it clear he would rather die than remain in the hands of his foe. Only the love of his daughter, Asteria, also held captive, keeps him from death.
The scene ends with Bajazet stuttering his final words,
gasping for breath, as the orchestra describes his fading
heartbeat with slowly receding repeated notes. It is an
amazingly vivid and inspired piece of work, which antici-
pates the later innovations of Gluck, Berlioz, and Wagner.
Although Asteria, demanding a dagger, threatens her own suicide, Bajazet's "sacrifice" is enough to soothe Tamerlano's hate. He is appeased. He will marry Irene and Andronico can be united with Asteria in Greece.
Los Angeles, Thanksgiving day, 2009