Direction: Francisco Negrin, Design & costumes: Anthony Baker
DVD Video - 2 discs
Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days.
Here is what is probably Handel's most accomplished opera: the heir to L'incoronazione di Poppea with respect to the villainy of some of its characters, but also the Baroque ancestor of certain Romantic operas!
Scrupulously based on historical characters, this work illustrates many different facets of the human soul, and also boasts perhaps the most sumptuous orchestral textures Handel ever conceived, magnificently brought out by Lars Ulrik Mortensen in this production from the Copenhagen Opera.
Francisco Negrin’s transposition of the opera to the universe of modern war and Anthony Baker’s refined designs place Andreas Scholl (Giulio Cesare) and the other soloists in an unsettling, crepuscular atmosphere that is highly contemporary.
“Though all of the performances are delivered with some intelligence Negine fails to draw much in the way of intensity from any of his singers, either individually or in confrontation. …any DVD Caesar has to measure itself against Glyndebourne's (on Opus Arte), which is going to take some beating.”
“Francisco Negrin's production, though not without judiciously applied humour in a few places, is essentially of a serious nature (and more so than his lighter and brighter Sydney production, reviewed above). Unsurprisingly, this sympathetic approach suits Handel's operaseria to a tee. There are neither damaging large cuts nor ill-advised reordering of movements, and Negrin's ideas fully support the musico-dramatic nature of the characters as presented in the libretto and score. The modernistic setting laced with elements of ancient Egypt provides the platform for a dark and brooding drama. Where some directors use tricks to amuse the audience, Negrin uses visual playfulness to illustrate a serious point about the characters (such as the contest between elevating thrones in 'Va tacito'). It is refreshing that at the end there is little doubt that the good guys have triumphed: Sesto is caked in Tolomeo's blood, which seems to mark his coming of age in a brutal world, but there is no attempt made to ridicule the victorious leading characters, who fully deserve their happy ending. Andreas Scholl's singing is consistently astute, and his acting has advanced considerably in subtlety since his operatic debut in Glyndebourne's Rodelinda nearly a decade ago. However, this is an excellent team performance. Inger Dam-Jensen performs with the ideal sincerity and emotiveness that Cleopatra's character too often lacks in superficial productions. Tuva Semmingsen's Sesto sings with crystalclear phrasing ('Cara speme' is heart-stopping). Christopher Robson's singing is weak but his acting as the nasty Tolomeo is superb in its timing of gestures (there is plenty of comedy in his scenes, but he is brutal and menacing rather than the simply camp idiot too often portrayed onstage). Lars Ulrik Mortensen's direction of the music from his harpsichord is well nigh perfect. This is not the most flamboyant or fancy Giulio Cesare on DVD, but it is certainly the most insightful and intelligent for drama, and probably also the best for all-round musical consistency.”
“This is certainly the most insightful and intelligent for drama, and probably also the best for all-round musical
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