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Handel: Giulio Cesare [DVD] [2012]

 Exempt   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £15.07 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Handel: Giulio Cesare [DVD] [2012] + The Enchanted Island [DVD] [2012] [NTSC] + Puccini: Tosca (Royal Opera House 2011) [Blu-ray] [2012]
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Product details

  • Format: Colour, DTS Surround Sound, PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Virgin Classics
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Sep 2012
  • Run Time: 217 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008LZYR9Q
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,105 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Giulio Cesare, the most popular of Handel s operas, is named after the great Roman emperor, but its most memorable character is Cleopatra. In this production by Laurent Pelly from Paris splendid Palais Garnier, the role of the Egyptian queen is assumed for the first time by Natalie Dessay, described by the Telegraph as "a supreme vocal enchantress".
Giulio Cesare is the opera that, over the quarter century, has led the vigorous revival of interest in Handel s works for the stage. Now in the repertoire of theatres around the world, it offers a dazzling array of dramatic situations and moods with music to match and the seductive and captivating character of Cleopatra exemplifies its (to quote Shakespeare) "infinite variety".
Natalie Dessay chose to make her stage debut in the role of the Egyptian queen at Paris s Palais Garnier, an opera house of legendary splendour and beauty and, seating an audience of less than 2,000, well suited to the intimacy of baroque opera. Dessay had already recorded all the character s arias for Virgin Classics with conductor Emanuelle Haïm, who was also in charge of the performances at the Palais Garnier in early 2011. "Every note is as clear and lustrous as a freshly polished crystal chandelier, said the Toronto Star of the soprano s recorded performance, while the Telegraph (UK) enthused that Dessay proves a supreme vocal enchantress".
She proved a svelte physical enchantress, too, in the staging by Laurent Pelly who, notably, directed Dessay in the sparkling production of Donizetti s La Fille de régiment that was seen in London, New York and Vienna and released on DVD by Virgin Classics. His witty and stylised conception of Handel s opera was described thus by the Wall Street Journal: "The curtain opens on the vast storeroom of an Egyptian museum, stuffed to the rafters with statuary and paintings, crates and frames. As a guard reads his newspaper, a statue of Julius Caesar comes alive plaster gray from top to toe, including his Roman soldier's garb. Caesar bursts into song, and sculpted heads and busts aligned on storage shelves follow suit, singing along in chorus. We're off into the wacky world of director Laurent Pelly's new production of Handel's 1724 Giulio Cesare at the Paris Opéra ... there is never a dull moment. The newspaper went on to praise the excellence of the cast: not just the stellar Ms. Dessay but also counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo as Caesar, mezzo-soprano Varduhi Abrahamyan as Cornelia and especially mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Sesto".
In The Sunday Times (UK), Hugh Canning, an enthusiast for Handel s operas, wrote that: "At the end of Act II, Cleopatra has one of Handel's most sublime arias, the great G minor lament 'Se pietà di me non senti', and Dessay sang it as well as I have ever heard in the theatre. She is an artist who understands the synergy of notes and text."

Product Description

VIR 0709399; VIRGIN - Italia; Classica Lirica

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funky, entertaining, and moving in equal measure 26 Oct 2012
This is a different take on the story and in my view just as valid as the Glyndebourne production with which it has inevitably been compared. In a work like this, one of the greatest operas in the repertoire, nothing is definitive. The setting of the action in the basement of a gallery works very well, and the whole thing is hugely entertaining. Natalie Dessay is, as one would expect, a funky Cleopatra (this is really *her* opera) but she sings her serious arias with great feeling: `piangerò la sorte mia' is most moving. She exudes a perky sexiness quite different from the sultry silkiness of Danielle de Niese -- I love both. Lawrence Zazzo makes an excellent Caesar: his long accompanied recitative after escaping from the sea is magnificent. Dominique Visse is predictably gauche as Nireno and makes the most of his scenes with Dessay. Isabel Leonard's Sesto is youthful and ardent -- perhaps a little too feminine -- and (s)he gets a warm ovation at the end. Cristophe Dumaux as Tolomeo lacks menace (he was better at Glyndebourne) but looks good and sings well. The only serious disappointment for me is Varduhi Abrahamyan as Pompey's widow Cornelia; her voice lacks firmness and she tends to squirm and swoon her way through the various attempts to seduce her -- not a patch on Patricia Bardon's nobly tragic performance at Glyndebourne. The band under Emmanuelle Haim play with style and panache with well-chosen tempi. I will return to this DVD quite often, I suspect, at least as often as to the Glyndebourne one and to alternatives on CD which I also have.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky yet enjoyable 9 Oct 2012
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Handel's Giulio Cesare has always been a particular favourite of mine and I'm always curious to see and hear
new productions of the opera. I loved the novel approach of this production with its setting in a museum environment, in what I initially thought to be differing time zones (the opera like a projection from the past playing in the present) until Cleopatra interacted with the staff - so I'm still thinking about it. Of course any new production on DVD is going to be compared with the superb Glyndebourne production with the sublime Sarah Connelly as Ceasar and the joyous Danielle de Niese as Cleopatra. I remember Danielle de Niese from the Paris Opera 2002 production with Marijana Mijanovic singing Caesar from the pit for an indisposed David Daniels while an actor took his place on stage. That was a marvellous production with touches of humour injected by the lifesize rubber crocodiles in their enclosure. This new Paris Opera production also has its moments of humour but I do take issue with the unnessesary hip grinding and crotch grabing of Ptolomey. We already know about his lascivious character, we don't need the visual illustration - it adds nothing and cheapens the opera. I don't mind Cleopatras prosthetic breast as it is in keeping with her costume and character, and no unnessesary attention is drawn to it.

As far as the singing is concerned there is the inevitable Glyndebourne comparison. While all the singing in the Paris Opera version is competent, it is I feel only Varduhi Abrahamyan as Cornelia and Isobel leonard (with a reminiscent Audrey Hepburn look)as Sesto who are truely inside their parts both vocally and visually.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BETTER THAN THE BEST 29 Mar 2013
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I like using counter tenors rather than women in the castrotato roles. Better than short over weight women with paste on mustaches,
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