Giulio Cesare - in cinemas
The triumphant sensation of the 2005 Festival, David McVicar’s acclaimed production of Handel’s grandest opera returns to cinema screens this autumn as part of the Glyndebourne Tour 2012.
Drawing inspiration equally from the British Raj and Bollywood, McVicar’s flamboyantly slick and sexy song-and-dance staging veers expertly between black comedy and heartbreaking tragedy as Handel’s sumptuous score pours out some of his most exquisitely fashioned, emotionally affecting and sheerly exciting arias.
A powerful cast is led by the two stars: mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly as the imperious Roman general and soprano Danielle de Niese as the irrepressibly coquettish Cleopatra, ever ready to render unto Caesar whatever it takes to gain control of her kingdom.
Danielle de Niese will be taking part in a Q&A before the Uckfield screening on the 21st October. For more information on this screening please visit - www.picturehouseuckfield.com/glyndebourne
‘Watching Glyndebourne Festival opera’s astonishing new production, it becomes blisteringly clear why it is regarded as the composer’s operatic masterpiece. Giulio Cesare is not so much a box of delights as an embarrassment of riches.’
‘Musically, visually, dramatically, this was vintage stuff.’
‘The triumphant entry of Handel’s masterpiece into the repertoire at Glyndebourne […] is a watershed, both in the history of this opera’s reception-it was rapturously received by the audience – and of the Festival.’
The Sunday Times
Georg Frideric Handel
This performance is captured live
Caesar has defeated Pompey at Pharsalia in Greece and pursued him to Egypt: the events forming the historical basis for the action took place in 18 – 17 BC.
Egypt welcomes Caesar who has come to do battle with Pompey. On behalf of Ptolemy (Tolomeo), ruler of Egypt, Achilla brings gifts to Caesar, including, to Caesar’s disgust, Pompey’s severed head. Cornelia, Pompey’s wife, attempts to commit suicide and her son Sextus (Sesto) , swears to avenge his father. Cleopatra, equally disgusted, attempts to ally herself to Caesar against her brother Ptolemy. Achilla boasts to Ptolemy that he will kill the Roman emperor, in return for Cornelia. Sextus challenges Ptolemy to a duel but the Egyptian has the boy arrested and has his mother assigned to garden duties. Achilla offers himself to Cornelia in return for her freedom. She rejects the idea with contempt.
Cleopatra has arranged an elaborate set piece for the seduction of Caesar It works as planned and Caesar is promised an assignation with ‘Lydia’. Meanwhile Cornelia, feverishly pursued by Achilla and Ptolemy, again attempts suicide but is restrained by her son. Caesar and ‘Lydia’ meet in the garden where their increasingly friendly conversation is interrupted by the news that Caesar has been betrayed and people are seeking his death. ‘Lydia’ discloses her true identity and tries to calm the situation, but she fails and begs Caesar to flee. The emperor refuses and moves to confront his aggressors. In another garden, Ptolemy confirms his desire for Cornelia and narrowly avoids being assassinated by Sextus, who is foiled by Achilla. Ptolemy, after fighting Achilla over Cornelia, leaves for battle with the Romans. His mother prevents Sextus from killing himself.
Achilla betrays Ptolemy by placing his soldiers at Cleopatra’s disposal. Ptolemy takes his sister prisoner, but just as Cleopatra is bidding farewell to her friends, Caesar arrives to save her. Meanwhile Ptolemy is advancing upon Cornelia, whose son promptly enters to kill her assailant. In Alexandria, Caesar and Cleopatra acknowledge Cornelia and Sextus as friends and proclaim their love for each other. The opera ends with a celebration of peace.
Conductor William Christie
Director David McVicar
Set Designer Robert Jones
Costume Designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designer Paule Constable
Movement Director Andrew George
Fight Director Nicholas Hall
Giulio Cesare Sarah Connolly
Curio Alexander Ashworth
Cornelia Patricia Bardon
Sesto Angelika Kirchschlager
Cleopatra Danielle de Niese
Nireno Rachid Ben Abdeslam
Tolomeo Christophe Dumaux
Achilla Christopher Maltman