Georg Friedrich Haendel (1685-1759)
Opéra en trois actes sur un livret de Nicola Francesco Haym
Créé le 20 février 1724 à Londres (King’s Theatre)
Giulio Cesare : Christopher Lowrey
Cleopatra : Karina Gauvin
Sesto : Ann Hallenberg
Cornelia : Ève-Maud Hubeaux
Tolomeo : Kacper Szelążek
Achilla : Ashley Riches
Les Talens Lyriques
Direction : Christophe Rousset
Production Les Talens Lyriques, avec le soutien du Cercle des Mécènes
Giulio Cesare in Egitto was a resounding success at its premiere and is still today one of Handel’s most performed opera seria. When the Royal Academy of Music presented it to audiences in 1723, “The house was just as full at the seventh performance as at the first”. It can be added that Handel had composed a score tailor-made for his singers, among them the famous castrato Senesino in the title role, and Francesca Cuzzoni, the great Handelian soprano of the 1720s. The sheer vocal virtuosity that seems to dominate the work is allied with a palette of nuances of expression and extensive accompanied recitatives. The many musical forms used – recitative, freely structured arias, symphonic passages – all contribute in Giulio Cesare to a display of exemplary mastery of composition to match each scene.
Nicola Francesco Haym, Handel’s librettist in the years 1723 to 1725, used as basis for his libretto one written by Bussani and staged fifty years earlier in Venice. The plot is that of a political drama shot through with amorous passions. The Roman, Giulio Cesare, the Egyptian, Tolomeo, his sister Cleopatra, Cornelia, Sesto, Curio, Achilla and Nireno are the protagonists in a game in which love, hatred, vengeance, power, death and reconciliation all intertwine. Handel presents us here with an unadulterated masterpiece with nuggets of musical inventiveness and the interplay of tonal and instrumental colours.
© Les Talens Lyriques