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MARIA NOCKIN was at San Diego Opera
for Handel's 'Julius Caesar in Egypt'

 

Giulio Cesare in Egitto was George Frideric Handel's fifth full length opera for London's Royal Academy of Music. The libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym was based on Giacomo Francesco Bussani's work for Antonio Sartorio's opera of the same name. On 20 February 1724, Handel's opera had its première and it sold well for thirteen performances. A writer of the time, Friedrich Ernst von Fabrice, said that the hall was just as full for the seventh performance as for the first.

Lisa Saffer (Cleopatra) charms Ewa Podles (Cesare) in the San Diego Opera production of 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto'. Photo © 2006 Ken Howard
Lisa Saffer (Cleopatra) charms Ewa Podles (Cesare) in the San Diego Opera production of 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto'. Photo © 2006 Ken Howard

Handel engaged an all star cast and tailored each role to the artist portraying it. Cesare was sung by the renowned alto castrato, Senesino, and Cleopatra by the spectacularly gifted coloratura soprano, Francesca Cuzzoni. Another well known alto castrato, Gaetano Berenstedt, sang Tolomeo, and a soprano star with excellent low tones, Margherita Durastanti, sang Sesto.

Vivica Genaux as Sesto in San Diego Opera's 'Giulio Cesare'. Photo © 2006 Ken Howard
Vivica Genaux as Sesto in San Diego Opera's 'Giulio Cesare'. Photo © 2006 Ken Howard

Although Handel's operas were largely forgotten during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they are again gaining a large following. San Diego Opera had a major artistic success with Ariodante, starring mezzo coloratura Vivica Genaux in 2002. On 21 April 2006, it offered a star studded production of Giulio Cesare in Egitto, featuring the awe inspiring Polish contralto Ewa Podles in the title role, and Genaux as Sesto.

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Copyright © 7 May 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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