Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Handel - Giulio Cesare / Kenny Pushee Dalton Campbell Gunn Bennett Hickox Sydney Opera|
Actors: Graham Pushee, Yvonne Kenny, Elizabeth Campbell, Richard Hickox
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
This glorious production of Handel?s moving opera was recorded live at the world-famous Sydney Opera House. This glittering event features a top notch cast headed by Graham Pushee in the title role and Yvonne Kenny as Cleo... more »
Beautiful and original production
T. C. | 10/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This piece was written as a typical opera seria. The director, Francisco Negrin does a great job in emphasizing the tragic moments, like Caesar lamenting aria Alma del gran Pompeo, or the sorrowful arias of Pompeo's widow - Cornelia. But Negrin is equally effective in finding the more amusing moments in this long opera, and is doing them with great fun and wittiness: Cleopatra taking milk bath or the way Caesar finds out that Lydia is really Cleopatra are two examples. Anthony Baker's designs are beautiful without being too loaded: they are very effective in portraying the ambiance of the various scenes. Gregory Nash's choreography is original and the dancers are great.
Richard Hickox conducts expertly the Australian opera orchestra, although I prefer period instruments in this piece. The title role is taken by the Australian countertenor Graham Pushee. David Daniels and Andreas Scholl have more beautiful voices, but Pushee is very impressive. He is an idiomatic Handel singer, with very good technique, and his coloratura is agile and smooth. The highlights of his performance are the hunting aria Va tacito e nascosto with horn obligato, the breathtaking second act aria Se in fiorito ameno prato with violin solo, and the third act big aria Aure, deh, per pieta.
Another Australian singer, Yvonne Kenny, does the role of Cleopatra. I love her velvety soprano. She is a skilled Baroque singer too and has great charm and captivating presence on stage. All the arias are done ravishingly, especially the second act aria V'adoro pupille (the decor here is wonderful, with the little orchestra on stage according to Handel's instructions). The famous third act aria Piangero is outstanding.
All other singers in the cast are good to very good, although Elizabeth Campbell in the role of Sextus has a "strange" accent.
I highly enjoyed watching this DVD. 3 and half hours went almost without notice. And what a great opera!
Respectable Though Dated Treatment of Handel's Great Opera
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a completely respectable 1994 Australian Opera production of one of Handel's greatest works performed by a talented cast produced in a highly stylized manner befitting of a decade ago. Whereas Peter Sellars gave the 1996 Glyndebourne production of Handel's "Theodora" an even more out-there approach, this production simply does not transcend its modernized treatment and seems rather dated now, even with an unclothed Cleopatra sauntering into a milk bath during "Venere bella". Anthony Baker's designs are eye-catching with sets that appear more symbolic of ancient Egypt with the use of clean lines. The portrayal of Tolomeo seems particularly contemporary with the character's kabuki make-up meant to symbolize his evil totalitarian nature. Moreover, director Francisco Negrin often facilitates scene changes by having the singers come forward off the stage, beyond the orchestra, in a manner similar to a Broadway show.
In the title role, countertenor Graham Pushee cuts a heroic figure and sings with appropriate fire and clarity at Handel's alto pitch. While he does not have the resonant tone and vocal beauty of David Daniels (who essayed the role in a similar treatment in San Francisco in 2001), Pushee is credible as a Roman conqueror in the midst of the composer's most testing arias. He hits his expected high points without disappointment: Act I's "Va tacito e nascosto"; Act II's especially impressive "Se in fiorito ameno prato" competing with a virtuoso violin solo (which literally stopped the show); and Act III's "Aure, deh, per pietà" when he returns to Egypt after his escape from Tolomeo. Soprano Yvonne Kenny is equally adept as Cleopatra with her authoritative vocal command and rather mature presence, which makes her early scenes a bit of an acting stretch. She is in excellent voice though and makes the most of her arias: Act II's "V'adoro, pupille" in the guise of a goddess prepared to entertain Caesar; the moving "Se pietà di me non senti" later in Act II; and of course, Act III's "Piangerò la sorte mia" as she laments her defeat by Tolomeo, an aria that made Leontyne Price famous. Contralto Rosemary Gunn gives a poignant performance as Cornelia as she clings onto her Roman dignity while imprisoned by Tolomeo, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Campbell does her best in the "pants" role of Cornelia's son Sesto, a young naval ensign. Their characters' famous duet, "Madre!...son nata a lagrimar", is performed quite exceptionally, though it pales in comparison to the meltingly beautiful 2001 version recorded by Stephanie Blythe and David Daniels. The one disappointment in the cast is countertenor Andrew Dalton, whose voice lacks the requisite venom to epitomize Tolomeo's evil nature.
Conductor Richard Hickox leads the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra with assurance and appropriate drama throughout. There are no extras with the DVD, just English subtitles for the opera is sung in Italian, but it is worth seeing a visual performance of Handel's wondrous opera even if it runs perilously long at 207 minutes. Fortunately the music is so enthralling, the length becomes a moot point to Handelians and other aficionados of the Baroque period."