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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    A DAZZLING 'TOUR DE FORCE'

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The castrato Senesino was Handel's Caesar. At one performance 'A Piece of the Machinery tumbled down from the Roof of the Theatre upon the Stage' just as Senesino had denied in Act 2 any knowledge of fear. The hero is then said to have trembled, lost his voice, and wept. It would take at least the whole roof to silence this Caesar. Graham Pushee sings with utmost bravura, fire and clarity at Handel's alto pitch, somehow managing to seem a Roman conqueror in the midst of the composer's most testing divisions. It is a dazzling tour de force and deserves every decibel of applause the Sydney audience gives him. Here he reacts at the gift of Pompey's severed head [listen -- DVD 1 track 8, 0:17-1:24, 'Empio, dirò, tu sei' (Act I)].

Rosemary Gunn (Cornelia, left) and Elizabeth Campbell (Sesto) in the duet 'Son nata a lagrimar' at the end of Act I. DVD screenshot © EuroArts Music International GmbH
Rosemary Gunn (Cornelia, left) and Elizabeth Campbell (Sesto) in the duet 'Son nata a lagrimar' at the end of Act I. DVD screenshot © EuroArts Music International GmbH

Cornelia has a wretched time. Having lost her husband, she is so pursued by suitors whether castrated or not that suicide repeatedly seems her only resource. It is a wonder indeed that she survives till curtain-down. At the end of Act 1, she and Sesto (Rosemary Gunn and Elizabeth Campbell) are united in the dumps, the one as heavy in voice as mood, the other giving no sign that, despite a certain reluctance to negotiate Richard Hickox's brisk speeds in coloratura, eventually he will do the odious Ptolemy in [listen -- DVD 1 track 30, 0:26-1:40, 'Son nata a lagrimar']. Cornelia in captivity has yet to do a stint as Ptolemy's gardener.

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Copyright © 4 May 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK

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