Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday night at the opera

Handel’s 1724 opera Giulio Cesare is about the affair between the Roman general Julius Caesar and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. The Glyndebourne production of 2006 was directed by David McVicar; the conductor was William Christie; the cast included Sarah Connolly as Caesar, Angelika Kirchschlager as Sesto and Patricia Bardon as Cornelia. Impossible to imagine a better line-up.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Cleopatra was Danielle de Niese. Here she is performing the aria “V’adoro, pupille”. At about a minute in, Cleopatra emerges from the rolled-up carpet and starts singing and, frankly, shimmying at Caesar:

The lyrics translate as:
I adore you, o eyes, the darts of love,
Your sparks sweetly pierce my breast.
My mournful heart beseeches your pity,
Since it ceaselessly calls you its dearly beloved.
This performance may not be what Handel had in mind in 1724 but it had me and the children riveted this afternoon as we watched the DVD. “She’s pretty,” said Seven. “Yes,” agreed her friend Eight. “The show’s not over till the slim lady dances,” I said.

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