Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt, 1724)

Friday March 31st

History - or not?

This was and still is Handel’s most popular opera, and (like Serse) it takes a historical subject – the meeting of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. And (like Serse) it makes an intimate and small scale story out of the epic situation.  Unlike Serse, this earlier work was classed as opera seria – but it’s rarely played seriously these days.

The Music

Some of the most-played Handel arias are here. “The orchestra in Giulio Cesare is smaller than those of later
Baroque operas, and the musical and dramatic messages are conveyed with more economy than later composers used—but with no loss of richness or emotion. The remarkable solo horn accompaniment in Caesar’s marvelous Act I aria “Va, tacito,” for example, recalls the sound of a hunter’s horns as he moves in on his prey while simultaneously suggesting the maneuvers of the character’s impressive intellect. Cleopatra is as seductive as she is intelligent: the onstage band (strings, winds, a harp, and a theorbo, or large lute) softly accompanies her ravishing Act II aria “V’adoro, pupille,” creating a radiant aura around her vocal line to help convince us of her irresistible
charms.” (Download the entire article, 46 pp, about the Met production under David McVicar - live in HD a year or so ago.) Watch David Daniels’ “Va Tacito” in the Met production. But many of us will never forget our wonderful Graham Pushee  singing it for Opera Australia. Compare Natalie Dessay singing “V’adoro, pupille” with Dame Joan and Monserrat Caballe.

Our production, our viewing (off site)

Controversy reigns about this production from Salzburg in 2012. But not about the extraordinary voices of Cecilia Bartoli (Cleopatra) and Andreas Scholl (Caesar). Prepare to debate the dangerous pleasures of crazily updating a baroque presentation of a historic moment in ancient times! Clashing reviews from Bachtrack OperaNews and Opera Today. Images on this page are from this production. Cleopatra - Cecilia Bartoli; Caesar - Andreas Scholl; Cornelia (Pompey’s wife) - Anne Sofie von Otter; Sesto (Cornelia’s son) - Philippe Jaroussky; Tolomeo (Ptolemy) - Christophe Dumaux. Il Giardino Armonico cond. Giovanni Antonini. Directors - Moshe Lieser & Patrice Caurier. Salzburg Whitsun
This meeting will be held at a private venue, and we will play the entire opera (4 hours). Watch for an email detailing the venue and the start times of each of the three acts.