Personality of Amir Temur in European Theatre Art

Issue #2 • 1181

Personality of Amir Temur always was in the highlight of European scholars. Scientists, historians and writers from different countries did much for studying of his activity and the dynasty of Temurids in general. R. Clavijo, I. Shiltberger, L. Langle, K. Marlo, I. Goethe, Ed. Po, Voltaire, G. Vambary, X. Hukhem, L. Keren and others were among them. Logically, phenomenon of Amir Temur was reflected in European literature.

The battle between armies of A. Temur and Turkish sultan Ваjazeth in 1402 at Ankara stirred equally oriental states and Europe. This historical event excited minds of many European artists and writers so much that became a key plot of many literary, drama and musical works.

Н. Роу

From the 16th up to 20th century Amir Temur and Ваjazeth had been major and almost exclusive heroes of the Muslim East. We have found more than sixty works of different genres which have the same title and identical subject line that again proved this fact. Each new epoch brought amendments and new accents in interpretation of the main personage.

In particular, among the earliest works devoted to A. Temur were I. F. Fortcha’s opera “Ваjazeth and Таmегlаnо” (1690) and M.A. Ziani’s opera “Il grano Tamerlano” (1689.) Amir Temur was a central personages of outstanding composers of the 13th -20th centuries, such as A. Scarlatti F. Gasparini, L. Leo, G. Teleman, F. Gendel, N. Porpora, G. Port, A. Vivaldi, G. Geez, E. Duni, G. Kuchi, G. Scollari, A. Sakkini, J. Mislivechek, I. Raihardt, P. Vinter, S. Mayr, N. Vakkai, A. Sapientza, P. Guglielmi, G. Bishop, G. Holbrooke and S. Nik.

Early literary and musical dramatic works not just entertained the western audience by fascinating exotic plot, but also gave new information forming knowledge and relation to the oriental system of geographical, political and cultural sights.

Importance of early works in interpretation of Amir Temur’s personality was great as they showed opposite and sometimes ambiguous characteristics of his individuality what later caused a variety of artistic approaches and versions.

Among them there are the tragedy of “Great Temur” (1590) by the English writer and playwright Christopher Marlo (1564-1593), the play of “Revenge of the God, or Great Temur of Iran” by Luis Velece de Guerera (1570-1640), the tragedy of “Great Temur, or death of Ваjazeth” (1675, Paris) by Jean Magnon (died in 1662), the novel of “Temur or death of Ваjazeth” by Nicolas Pradonna (1632-1698), the tragedy of “Great Temur” (1681) by English playwrights Charles Sanders, “Victim” (1686) by Francis Fene (died in 1689), the play of “Tamerlan” (1710) by unknown author, devoted to mademoiselle de la Rosh Gulhem (1640-1710), poetic-dramatic work by Franz Nissel (1817-1900) “Temur Isfahan” and the play of “Ваjazeth” (1828, stored in Copenhagen) by Djokhan Karsina Haucha (1790-1872), which in the 16th -19th centuries were a huge success in theatres of Europe, according to written sources,.

One of British museums keeps the manuscript of the tragedy “Pious Temur” (1720) by William Poppl (1701-1764). We think that this work shows new aspects in interpretation of Temur’s personality. The play puts forward the idea of tolerance. Amir Temur is in focus of author’s attention and highly estimated.

Иллюстрация к трагедии Н. Роу
“Тамерлан” (Баязет и Арпасия).

Amir Temur plays an important role in romantic drama of “Temur tartar” (1858-1859, Paris) by Mattheu Gregori Lewis (1775-1818), play of “Lover of Ваjazeth” by Charles Brifaun (1781-1857) and in the play of ” Ваjazeth” by Johanns Kersten Hauch (1790-1872) created in 1828 in Copenhagen. A special place among the works about Amir Temur belongs to the tragedy of “Tamerlane” (1701) by English dramatist Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718) which equalized with Shakespeare’s masterpieces in popularity and importance. In 1724 German composer G. F. Gendel created one of the best his operas – “Tamerlane”, probably, inspired by the season evenings of N. Rowe. The premiere of the opera was held in 1702 on Lincoln Square. For a century the play was performed ten times each subsequent theatrical season. “Tamerlane” was a huge success in England of the 18th century.

N. Rowe’s play overcame stereotypes of heroic tragedies by Dryden and paved the way to sentimental tragedy in history of English drama. At the same time it has both historical, and aesthetic value. Relation of the author to Amir Temur was expressed in the short dedication which N. Rowe wrote to Duke of Devonshire William Markuss: “His Bravery, his Piety, his timeliness, his Justice and his fatherly love for his People, but, first of all, his Hate to Tyranny and Oppressions, his zealous Care of social benefit of Humanity show great Similarity to Your Majesty”

The author highly estimated merits of the hero and modestly told about his own abilities to show such perfection. “The hero exceeded the Idea of the Poet”, – he wrote pointing out that a pen of the poet paled beside the power of this person.

In the prologue N. Rowe, addressing to readers, gives the characteristic of Amir Temur: “… He fought and suffered for interests of the state. This Just prince was ready to shed blood for sake of peace”.

In the N. Rowe’s play the relations of Amir Temur and Ваjazeth were an object of political allegories. In particular, they were the context for political comparison of William III and Louis XIV, the English liberals and conservatives. “Tamerlane”, devoted to Duke of Devonshire William Markuss, shows new sides of artistic interpretation of Amir Temur’s personality.

The play begins with preparation of Amir Temur for decisive battle against Turkish sultan Ваjazeth.
Conversation of Temur’s generals show that the commander carefully prepared to coming fight and had huge plans. Amir Temur won, and Ваjazeth with his army were captured.
Besides the heroic line there is another, the most typical of musical dramas of the 18th century. This is a theme of Amir Temur’s love for the daughter of Ваjazeth – Asteria.
Among the popular librettos on this plot there is a play of “Tamerlane” (1711) by Italian dramatist Augustine Piovene (1671-1721). Fifteen composers developed versions of this libretto by A. Piovene: 1720 – Fortunato Chelleri, 1722 – Leonardo Leo, 1728 – Giovanni Antonio Nini, 1730 – Nikolo Porpora, 1735 – Antonio Vivaldi, 1754 – G. Bernaskoni, 1764 – G. Skollari, 1764 – Pedro Guglielmi, 1773 – Antonio Sakkini, 1796 – Ferdinand Payer, 1818 – Giovanni Tadonini, 1824 – Antonio Sapientza. Among the first composers were Mark Antonio Ziani (1689), Francesco Gasparini (1717) and G. F. Gandel (1724) who paid the attention to A. Piovene’s libretto.

Francesco Gasparini created the opera of “Tamerlane” when he was 49, being a famous composer. The first performers were such famous Italian singers, as tenor – Francesco Borozini (Ваjazeth), counter-tenor – Antonio Bernacco (Temur), soprano – Maria Benti Bulgarelli (Asteria), soprano – Faulstina Bordoni (Iren). High skills of Italian opera singers provided the success of the opera. G.F. Gendel’s “Tamerlane” opened the sixth season of Royal Conservatory. The troupe invited the stars of opera Andrea Pakini (Tamerlane), Francesca Kuzzoni (Asteria), Anna Vicenza Dotti (Iren), and from the former troupe – tenor Francesco Borozini (Ваjazeth).

Unfortunately, many musical and dramatic works have been lost. Some manuscripts are kept in private collections, and just a few were published and are available at some foreign libraries.
In N. Rowe’s play the character of Ваjazeth is brightly exposed in the scene with his wife – Arpasia. The Greek princess was forced to marry Ваjazeth. “I am a wife of tyrant!” – she exclaimed, and, fully exhausted by such destiny, she committed suicide at the final of the play.

The person of Amir Temur is shown in conversation of Turkish dervish Halu (servitor of Ваjazeth) and his friends. The brightest features of sahibkiran – nobleness and ability to forgive. Discussion of Amir Temur and dervish shows tolerance of Temur. Justifying violent actions of Ваjazeth, dervish addresses to Temur: “the Muslim should not fight against a Muslim, otherwise he will be punished by the Most High! Lord, ally with Ваjazeth against the unrighteous!” Amir Temur answered: “You try to scare me! It is one of your political tricks! The Most High created many beliefs and they have a name – religion. Struggle proceeding from contradictions of these religions means treachery of cognate blood!”.

The character of Amir Temur as noble, almighty and great person is positively interpreted in musical and dramatic literature of Europe. The fact of positive perception of the oriental hero by European spectators is important too. “Tamerlane” by the English playwright of the 18th century N. Rowe was written in highly stylized poetic form and showed new sides of this historical person, creating preconditions for further artistic realization of this character in musical literature of the West. Study and propagation of the European musical and dramatic works, connected with our centuries-old history, promotes revealing of new ideological and stylistic interpretations.

Ravshanoi Tursunova

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