Giulio Cesare is one of Handel's best operas, and while it is not my favourite production of it- 2006 Glyndebourne with Sarah Connolly and Danielle DeNiese- it is very good. Where it loses points for me is for some bizarre costuming, especially with Cleopatra, and Christopher Robson's Ptolomeo, funny and lascivious but rather broken and forced vocally(sounded as though he was singing in chest voice a lot of the time, a shame really as his early career stuff is wonderful). The sets though fit very well within the concept, quite elegant on the whole, while the staging is intriguing with some nice sly humour and the gimmicks on the most part kept at minimum. The orchestral playing keeps within the Handel style, yet the power and pathos of the score seeps through without any effort while Lars Ulrik Mortensen conducts them briskly, indicating that he knows and loves Handel's music and possibly early music in general as well.
Andreas Scholl's Cesare blew me away, regal and commanding with a countertenor voice of purity and agility and utilised with superb artistry. Of the three Cesares on DVD I've seen(I've yet to see Janet Baker's), Scholl is the best by far, though I loved Connolly and was mixed on Jeffrey Gall in the Peter Sellars production. The Cleopatra of Inger Dam-Jensen is every bit his equal, her voice and intonation are as clear as crystal complete with beautiful soft singing and she is sensual and gorgeous-looking as Cleopatra should be. She also deserves credit for wearing her bizarre costuming with dignity. Michael Maniaci makes for a true boy soprano as Nireno, if he was old enough he could have played Ptolomeo easily I think, and Palle Knudsen's Achilla is strong and sturdy in physique, acting and voice. Randi Sterne as Cornelia is captivating, and Tuva Semmingsen is utterly convincing in Sesto's trouser role if lacking Lorraine Hunt's expression and word intensity.
Overall, a very good performance and with one exception the cast are fine. 8/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?