Giulio Cesare Glyndebourne evaluation: Handel’s opera hits all proper notes | Theatre | Entertainment | EUROtoday

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Glory, romance, distress, revenge, treachery and plotting, all to a rating of gorgeous music, Handel’s Giulio Cesare (that is Julius Caesar in Italian) has all the pieces. And David McVicar’s route, first seen almost 20 years in the past at Glyndebourne, brings much more. When I first noticed this 5 years in the past, I believed it was essentially the most good manufacturing I had ever loved. This time, if something, it’s even higher.

The opera is ready round 48BC when Julius Caesar led the Roman military to victory in Egypt and it begins with the triumphant presentation of Ptolemy’s head to a disgusted Caesar, who hoped to be seen as a magnanimous conqueror. This scene and plenty of particulars of the following romance between Cleopatra and Caesar appear to have been the invention of Handel’s librettist Nicola Francesco Haym, however such drama-improving gildings appear to have given McVicar the excuse to introduce many extra. Notably, this Glyndebourne manufacturing is closely laden with anachronisms that drastically add to the humour.

Handel’s opera is 300 years outdated this yr and it depicts occasions of greater than 2,000 years in the past, however as an alternative of seeing Caesar’s troopers wearing tunics and helmets, they seem as late nineteenth century British redcoats with pith helmets and rifles whereas the images proven behind the stage differ from Napoleonic battleships to extra fashionable naval vessels and airships. Apart from amusing the viewers, this serves to verify that the issues of warfare are timeless.

Remarkably, this all works splendidly and the incongruity suits Handel’s gloriously cheerful music magnificently. Impeccably performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment performed by Laurence Cummings, the music is even heightened by McVicar’s impressed coup at one stage of bringing violinist Kati Debrezeni onto the stage to carry out an impressive duet with Caesar wherein the singer and the violinist duel over the musical efficiency of the identical phrases. Never has Handel’s music appeared such enjoyable.

With the troopers trying like one thing from Gilbert and Sullivan and Andrew George’s cheeky choreography incorporating concepts extra harking back to Morecambe and Wise, the entire manufacturing turns into an impressive romp.

Despite all this frivolity, the scenes of romance, villainy and despair are performed with full emotion by a extremely gifted solid, notably within the main roles. Louise Alder performs the a part of Cleopatra fantastically, displaying a wonderful voice, glorious dancing potential, spectacular appearing expertise and an actual expertise for comedy when applicable. In all this, she is matched by American countertenor Arieh Nussbaum Cohen as Caesar. This position is normally performed by a mezzosoprano, however Cohen’s excessive male voice is very efficient and his duets with Alder present a few of the musical highlights of the opera.

With so many elements of this manufacturing worthy of reward, there isn’t a room to say all the pieces, however I can’t miss out the performances of Scottish mezzo-soprano Beth Taylor and Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Svetlina Stoyanova as Cornelia and Sesto, the widow and son of the slain Pompey, who very successfully painting the inherent grief and need for vengeance of their roles. With the main elements admirably accomplished by Canadian countertenor Cameron Shahbazi as Cleopatra’s vicious brother Tolomeo, this all provides as much as a manufacturing of uncommon distinction.

In 1934 when Glyndebourne Opera started, its founder, John Christie, introduced their ambition to attain: “Not just the best we can do but the best that can be done anywhere.” David McVicar’s manufacturing of Giulio Cesare should come very near reaching that ultimate.

Giulio Cesare is enjoying on the Glyndebourne Festival till 23 August. Box workplace: 01273 815 000 or