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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Anderson    A DAZZLING 'TOUR DE FORCE'

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Determined to catch Caesar, the Cleopatra of Yvonne Kenny, vocally and personally well up to the job, pretends to be her handmaid Lidia. Next she is in a pseudo-Parnassus, seated on a throne as 'Virtue', with Muses around her, and busy with her best-known aria [listen -- DVD 1 track 35, 0:00-1:03, 'V'adoro, pupille' (Act II)]. Parnassus disappears, and Caesar muses playfully in duet with a solo violin on the increased charms of a presence he no longer enjoys [listen -- DVD 1 track 37, 0:00-1:23, 'Se in fiorito ameno prato' (Act II)].

[watch and listen to a sequence from 'Se in fiorito ameno prato' (Act II) using the player below -- needs an Apple Quicktime plugin -- high speed connection preferred].

Throughout the opera it is worth keeping watch on Caesar's eyebrows: they tell much. Equally fascinating are the varied repeats that make a da capo not only welcome but constantly intriguing if occasionally outrageous enough to cause mirth in the auditorium.

Rosemary Gunn (Cornelia, left) with Andrew Dalton (Tolomeo) in Ptolemy's Palace. DVD screenshot © EuroArts Music International GmbH
Rosemary Gunn (Cornelia, left) with Andrew Dalton (Tolomeo) in Ptolemy's Palace. DVD screenshot © EuroArts Music International GmbH

Andrew Dalton as Ptolemy is presented as unpleasantly as possible, caught at one moment using a serving man as chair. His alto is far less commanding than Caesar's. The walls of the Alexandria seraglio apparently carry large portraits of himself to the total of his ladies. They might well wish a portion of the ceiling to descend on him, leaving the rest to annihilate the tiresome Nireno, officially Cleopatra's eunuch, but ubiquitous in this production. Like most of the characters, Ptolemy can fly into a decorative passion the moment he is crossed, in this case by Cornelia's scorn [listen -- DVD 1 track 41, 0:00-1:21, 'Sì, spietata, il tuo rigore' (Act II)]. Ptolemy's palace hieroglyphs are chaotic and never deviate into sense. But why should they? In Handel's time nobody understood them.

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Copyright © 4 May 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK

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