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Giulio Cesare, Opera in Three Acts (2006)

Not Rated  |  Video  |   |  Music  |  1 April 2006 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 33 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

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(libretto), (after "Giulio Cesare in Egitto")
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Title: Giulio Cesare, Opera in Three Acts (Video 2006)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sarah Connolly ...
Angelika Kirchschlager ...
Danielle de Niese ...
Christophe Dumaux ...
Patricia Bardon ...
Christopher Maltman ...
Rachid Ben Abdeslam ...
Alexander Ashworth ...
William Christie ...
Himself - Conductor
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment ...
Themselves - Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus ...
Nadja Zwiener ...
On-stage Violin
Sirena Tocco ...
Irene Hardy ...
Hatem Kamel ...
Actors (as Hatim Kamel)


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1 April 2006 (UK)  »

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Giulio Cesare, Opera in three acts
Libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym (as Nicola Francesco Haym), after Giacomo Francesco Bussani's "Giulio Cesare in Egitto"
Music by George Frideric Handel (as Georg Friedrich Händel)
Performed by Sarah Connolly, Alexander Ashworth, Patricia Bardon,
Angelika Kirchschlager, Danielle de Niese, Rachid Ben Abdeslam, Christophe Dumaux,
, Christopher Maltman, Nadja Zwiener with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Glyndebourne Chorus
Conducted by William Christie
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User Reviews

Buckle at de Niese
17 July 2007 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

This is a film of the 2005 Glyndebourne production of Giulio Cesare, directed by David McVicar. I had to content myself with the film because the live production very quickly sold out. McVicar sets the piece in a British raj version of Egypt, so the Roman soldiers are British redcoats, Curio, one of the Roman officers, even wears a kilt. This is not at all off-putting and gently emphasises the parallels between Roman imperialism and that of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The revelation of this production is Danielle de Niese's Cleopatra. I have previously seen her in Les Indes Gallantes with the same conductor, William Christie. De Niese and Christie bring some of the joy and jollity of that Rameau production to Handel's Julius Caesar. De Niese gives a complete performance, delightful singing, accomplished dancing and a mischievous personality. The audience loves it when she drops her sunglasses; as she bends down to pick them up, the entire Romano-British army buckles at the knees to get a better view. Her Piangero La Sorte Mia is very tenderly done but her personality is so ebullient that I could not take it seriously. Her best aria is Da Tempeste Il Legno Infranno in which she demonstrates her machinegun coloratura while miming the machine-gunning of the Glyndebourne audience. In the first act interval, de Niese reveals that she is miked for this performance with a transmitter concealed about her body. I spent much of the second and third acts trying to work out where they had hidden the transmitter under her figure-hugging costumes.

Sarah Connolly is an impressive Caesar with a convincingly masculine appearance and an accomplished contralto voice. Her best number is Va Tacito E Nascosto with horn obligato, performed while she dances a poker-faced military quadrille.

This production is so profligate with its talent that it can afford one of the world's leading mezzos, Angelika Kirchschlager in the comparatively minor role of Sexto, although Sesto does have some good arias and a ravishing duet, Son Nato A Lagrimar, with his mother Cordelia, sung by Patricia Bardon.. The third trouser role in what must originally have been a battle of the castrati is taken by Christophe Dumaux, as Tolomao, who has a pleasing voice and who also makes the most of the comic business , including cross-dressing in his sister Cleopatra's clothes.

It is difficult to imagine a better production of this opera. It brings, in a modern context, all the spectacle that must have been present in Handel's original 1720s production. I loved the sea at the back of the set with little boats bobbing up and down. I was even prepared to forgive David McVicar's use of Zeppelins in Caesar's decisive battle against Tolomeo. Tolomeo and Achilla, killed in battle, return to take part in the finale to add to the pantomime air of the proceedings

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