- Act I aria “Va, tacito”
- Act II aria “V’adoro, pupille”
- David Daniels as Cesare
- Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra
- Harry Bicket conducting the orchestra
- Others Include:Dessay, Coote, Bardon, Dumaux, Loconsolo
The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center
- Composer: George Frideric Handel
- Librettist: Nicola Francesco Haym
Handel wrote this opera in in 1724 for the Royal Academy of Music, where it was first performed in London. According to Stanley Sadie in Handel, Giulio Cesare is an opera in III acts about Cleopatra and Cesare’s first meeting, and the story of Cleopatra’s “murderous brother,” Ptolemy (Sadie 1969, 36-37).
Keeping true to his predecessors, Handel composed this opera with arias and recitatives, with an underlining continuo. Amy Ann Schneider describes Cesare’s first aria: “this relentless bravado aria alternates an agitated violin line with the equally agitated vocal line,” and also notes that the continuo “outline[s] broad leaps” (Schneider 2000, 37). Handel creates a lot of text painting within Giulio Cesare, including a battle during the aria “Al lampo dell’amri,” in which he “depicts the flashing of swords with the key B-flat major…galloping eighth- and sixteenth-note rhythmic pattern[s]” (Schneider 2000, 40).
Interestingly, Handel did not compose this opera based on what was happening in the world during this time. Europe was a mess, with war waging, and America trying to break free from England’s reign. Perhaps, what Handel was doing, was to keep the uneasiness off the people’s minds and offer pure entertainment. Much like the works of William Shakespeare, Handel took something from history and created a story. More so than a sign of his time, Handel shows his creative ability and musical genius in the classic Baroque style opera.
Sadie, Stanley. Handel. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1969.
Schneider, Amy Ann. His or Hers: On Performing Heroic Male Roles in Handel’s London Operas. Boston: UMI, 2000.