George Frideric Handel • Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Opera in three acts, HWV 17
Text by Nicola Francesco Haym (1678–1729) based on the libretto by Giacomo Francesco Bussani for the opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto by Antonio Sartorio
Duration approx. 4 hours 40 min.
Print programme (PDF)
Andreas Scholl, Giulio Cesare, Roman Emperor
Cecilia Bartoli, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt
Anne Sofie von Otter, Cornelia, Pompeo's widow
Philippe Jaroussky, Sesto, Pompeo's and Cornelia's son
Christophe Dumaux, Tolomeo, King of Egypt, Cleopatra's brother
Jochen Kowalski, Nirena
Ruben Drole, Achilla, general, Tolomeo's advisor
Peter Kálmán, Curio, Roman tribune
Il Giardino Armonico
The encounter between Giulio Cesare and Cleopatra in the year 48 B.C. is one of the most colorful romances in history, in which armed conflicts of state, erotic entanglements, intrigue, adventurous circumstances and exotic local flavors combine. In his typical way and using an extraordinarily sumptuous complex instrumentation (for him), which even features four horns at the beginning and end, Handel illuminates all the facets of his figures, and his contemporaries all agreed that he had created an opera which “offers beauty of all kinds in abundance”. The focus of the conflict between Cesare and Pompeo – historically verified – is the seductive power of the Egyptian king’s sister, Cleopatra, who conquers the heart of the victorious governor. In eight grand da capo arias, the entire spectrum of human feelings is illustrated, from thoughtless coquettishness to passionate love born by the deepest emotions. One highlight of this complex play about political dominance on the Nile is the seduction scene at the beginning of Act Two: Cleopatra, dressed up – in an ironic form of theatrical alienation – as “Virtue” and seated upon Mount Parnassus surrounded by the nine muses, surprises and overwhelms the senses of the great general with a scene full of sensuality and gracefulness.