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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put your hands together, please, for Mr Georg Friedrich Gilbert Sullivan
I sympathize with almost everything (for and against) which has been written about this production. I have to say that personally I enjoyed it, though I can see why many would not. On the strength of this dvd, I bought a cd of Danielle de Niese singing Handel and found it very disappointing - I think because she is such a visual artist. Her antics in this Giulio Cesare...
Published on 25 Aug 2012 by Glilla Bear

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A provocative staging
The production features plenty of clever stagecraft, but I fail to see the logic of transposing ancient and exotic Egypt to the period of the British occupation of Egypt in the late 19th century and it does seem rather odd to see warships and blimps instead of Egyptian feluccas and Roman ships in the background. However, David McVicar's production of Giulio Cesare manages...
Published 7 months ago by Jorge


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put your hands together, please, for Mr Georg Friedrich Gilbert Sullivan, 25 Aug 2012
By 
Glilla Bear (Isle of Wight, UK) - See all my reviews
I sympathize with almost everything (for and against) which has been written about this production. I have to say that personally I enjoyed it, though I can see why many would not. On the strength of this dvd, I bought a cd of Danielle de Niese singing Handel and found it very disappointing - I think because she is such a visual artist. Her antics in this Giulio Cesare certainly make some scenes go with a swing, and I find it difficult to believe that Mr Haendel, Gent, would deep in his heart have found much to disapprove of. Some of the singing is truly excellent, especially that of Patricia Bardon as Cornelia (who sounds, to my ears, like a real old-fashioned contralto, though I know she prefers to be styled a 'Mezzo')and Christophe Dumaux as Ptolemy. There is much in the way of acrobatics from the men (including a backward somersault from Christopher Maltman) - stuff you either like or dislike. William Christie conducts the whole thing with enormous gusto and idiom (we expect no less from him). So, apart from a few bits of real OTT, I loved it - though I did feel sometimes as if I was watching "The Gondoliers"! Much of the backdrop is anachronistic, featuring Zeppelin airships, HMS Hood type battleships, WWII cruisers, then the "Titanic" or something which looks very much like her. At the end there is a lot of mouth to mouth kissing by everybody of everybody, but this degree of self-congratulation was what I think the audience was encouraging with their considerable and (for Glyndebourne) slightly indecorous ovation.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belcantoboy, 10 Aug 2006
If you only buy 1 opera on DVD this year (or even this decade) this is the one to buy. I have watched this so many times already with, of course, repeats of some particular favourite arias.

This is a recording of probably the best production of any opera you will ever see. I have been going to the opera live for more years than I care to remember and have more recordings that I can store. Yes, I saw this live (on one of the 2 dates it was recorded last year for this DVD). I even had to give up my booked seats for the camera and camera man!

This was a triumph at last years BBC proms as well as at Glyndebourne. Try reading the reviews given in the papers in 2005. No wonder it is a sell out with the slightly different cast at Glyndebourne this year. Again rave reviews in papers.

The staging is just a joy from beginning to end. It is impossible to single out any of the soloists as being better than the others. Each in their different way brings something special to this opera and makes an important contribution to the whole. The orchestra are renown for their playing and make a major contribution to a very special recording.

If this recording seems expensive remember that it is a 3 DVD set and is a lot cheaper that going to Glyndebourne. Ideally you should go AND buy the DVD. I was exceptionally lucky and did just that.

If you have never seen and opera or never seen a Handel opera staged, then this will be an eye opener. You will then understand why people are prepared to spend £160 a seat to see opera at Glyndebourne and the house is sold out.

"Of all the noises known to man, opera is the most expensive."

- Molière (1645)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to beat?, 20 Oct 2007
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The only bad thing I can say about this DVD is that it sets an impossibly high standard for Danielle de Niese -- the undoubted star of the show -- to beat. Everything else she does may seem like an anti-climax after this. Let's hope not.

I was not able to see the production at Glyndebourne, but saw it (semi-staged) at the Royal Albert Hall. de Niese's voice filled that vast space and had every member of the audience spell-bound. Of course she has the voice of an angel -- you can hear that yourself from the CD recordings -- but this DVD gives you some idea of her stage-presence, charisma, and acting ability. In the final duet at the Albert Hall, the way she looked adoringly into the eyes of Caesar, you could honestly believe that she was in love with him (despite the fact that he was being sung by a woman!)

Some readers may imagine that male listeners have simply fallen for her physical charms, and no-one would deny that she is very easy on the eyes, but when I was queueing for the Albert Hall I met an elderly female friend who had seen the production a few weeks before at Glyndeboune, and was bringing another female friend to hear it again. So this is not just 'one for the boys'. And just to prove that I am not blinded by an infatuation, I may add that I heard her some months later in St John's, Smith Square, London, and she sounded pretty awful: her voice is much to big for that small space. I also do not really like her French recording of Semele, recorded some years earlier, but she seems to be getting better as the years pass ...
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative, 9 Jun 2006
By 
Mr. John A. Fawssett "Opera Addict" (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was fortunate enough to see the second performance at Glyndebourne last year. I will never forget the performance, nor the date: 7th July 2005 ... the day of the London Bombings.

Aside from my personal feelings about the outrage, there were two consequences for the performance. Firstly, at least 10% of the seats were empty - something almost unheard of - because so many of those coming down from London were unable to travel. Secondly, in response, everybody involved gave more than 100%, to put on an astonishing performance.

I have recently bought 5 copies of the DVD All but one will be given to friends and relations around the world. But I have already played my own copy several times.

I can only agree with the two rave reviews already written. But these were really about the live performances they saw rather than the DVDs. These are filmed at HD quality, over - I think - the last two performances. And it was clear to me that the production had developed beyond what I saw.

Also there is a large amount of additional features included.
These range from a very helpful visual synopsis of the plot, and a number of photos, to a couple of enthralling interviews. The first is with Danielle de Niese - the young American singer playing Cleopatra, who deservedly stole the show - and her substantial and highly entertaining account of the Glyndebourne experience and what it meant for her. The second, longer and, for the opera lover, even more fascinating, is a discussion with the major participants, including Conductor William Christie and Stage Director David McVicar.

I do not believe that a better opera DVD at present exists.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece which will become a classic, 15 Sep 2009
By 
This review is from: George Frideric Handel - Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2005) [Blu-ray] [2010] (Blu-ray)
This is a very long opera at 227 minutes but very worth the viewing effort. The cast is brilliant, particularly the lovely Danielle De Niese, and the production directed by David Mcvicar is quite unique. There is clever comedy, dance and drama to the excellent music on original instruments from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by William Christie.
The BD set includes two extra documentaries which add another 78 minutes, one featuring Danielle De Niese and the other detailing the enthusiasm of the cast and director for this Handel masterpiece. These are worthwhile viewing, preferrably before commencing the opera itself.
The costuming is generally modern and somewhat quirky but the artistry is so good it is not a distraction. However some aspects such as props of pistol and rifles and background pictures of warships and blimps did seem unecessarily gimmicky.
Overall it is Handel at his best, interpreted by an inspired cast of superb singers and actors with excellent audio and video quality. This set is a must for serious opera lovers.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David McVicar's done it again!, 5 April 2006
By A Customer
I went to see this live and I can't even begin to describe the atmosphere of the audience. They nearly took the roof off while applauding at the end, and I can really see why.
I am an avid Classical music fan, but for me nearly four hours of Handel is usually deathly. This production, however, kept me entertained throughout. The sets and costumes are sumptuous, the performances are spot on, the musical performance is superb, and the youthful cast bring real energy to the stage. Some of the set pieces are truly inspired, such as the presentation of Pompey's head on a silver platter in the opening scene. The dance sequences could come strait out of Bollywood cinema, and complement the dance forms of the arias they accompany.

The cast are truly, truly outstanding. Sarah Connolly is absolutely fantastic as Cesare. Her vocal range and quality is amazing and she plays a man incredibly well; her Cesare is incredibly powerful and ever so slightly chauvenistic. Danielle De Niese's Cleopatra is quite a spoilt brat, but she's so lovable and fabulous with it you fall quite in love with her. I love her diva-like friendship with the camper than Christmas Nireno, played to the letter by Rachid Ben Abdeslam. Christophe Dumax is a splendid Tolemeo; brattish, vindictive, narcissistic, yet very attractive with it. What with him and Christopher Maltman's powerfully sung, dominating Achilla and Alexander Ashworth's kilt-clad Curio, it's enough to recommend any girl to buy this DVD simply for the beautiful men, even if they can't stand opera.
Seriously, I can't recommend this DVD enough. It has converted me to Handel; before this production I couldn't stand him or Boroque music in general. David Mc Vicar is an actual genius, and should be knighted. Maybe even cannonised.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A provocative staging, 15 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: George Frideric Handel - Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2005) [Blu-ray] [2010] (Blu-ray)
The production features plenty of clever stagecraft, but I fail to see the logic of transposing ancient and exotic Egypt to the period of the British occupation of Egypt in the late 19th century and it does seem rather odd to see warships and blimps instead of Egyptian feluccas and Roman ships in the background. However, David McVicar's production of Giulio Cesare manages to combine serious insight with entertainment - the latter a not-altogether welcome feature from a purist's point of view.

Daniella de Niese's vocal command and stage presence are spectacular, but I must reject gimmicks such as watching her parading about in cabaret attire and finally depositing her umbrella in the urn containing Pompeo's ashes. What should have been a gripping drama of political treachery, betrayal, vengeance, seduction, fidelity and heroism, has partly been turned into a cabaret farce. You will look in vain for depth, nobility and heroism, all of which are part of Handel's opera. On the other hand, there is much to enjoy - Cleopatra's apparently superficial flirtation with Cesare blossoms into a love affair and her early vanity is absolved by her poignant lamentation when she believes that all hope is lost. It is a deeply felt performance with plenty of accomplished and tender Handelian singing from a cast of fine singers.

The best approach to staging Baroque operas seems to be to avoid the traditional approach (though there are exceptions), but to stick to the tradition in terms of singing and period instrumentation. It is not that all the necessary qualities are not already there in Handel's compositions that captures the sentiments of its characters so well, but a modern staging must allow the audience to see them visualized. My criticism is not directed at updating Baroque operas, but whether I like this particular staging.

It is a paradox that while singing and playing are as authentic as can be, they are not interested in recreating the theatrical aesthetic of the Baroque opera. However, William Christie, who has done more than anyone to introduce modern audiences to the delight of Baroque opera, ensures that Handel's masterpiece is brought to life in a powerful, convincing and thought-through way.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotion et divertissement!, 26 July 2006
By 
nekki "nekki" (Liège, Belgique) - See all my reviews
Sublime! C'est ainsi qu'on peut définir cette représentation du chef-d'oeuvre lyrique de Haendel.En effet, David McVicar est parvenu, sans le trahir le moins du monde, a rendre cet opéra tout à fait actuel, pas seulement en transposant dans l'Egypte du dix-neuvième siècle les amours de César et de Cléopâtre, mais en adaptant les chorégraphies à notre temps. Haendel n'aurait pu qu'applaudir telle conception, centrée à la fois sur l'émotion et le divertissement.

Mise en scène superbe, drôle et émouvante en même temps, avec plein de clins d'oeil aux "musicals" d'hier et d'aujourd'hui; des chanteurs d'un immense talent musical et théâtral à la fois. Il faudrait les citer tous!

La direction d'orchestre de William Christie est tout en finesse, ce qui nous permet de mieux admirer la beauté de cette musique trop souvent considérée comme mineure!

Bref, un spectacle de tout haut niveau, filmé dans un lieu enchanteur, comme nous le montrent les intéressants bonus inclus dans les DVD.

Un DVD qui est un "must" pour tout amateur d'opéra baroque.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theatre experience of a lifetime, 22 Aug 2007
By 
Susan Thorn "Sue Thorn" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've never written a review here before, but have to add my bit to the others. At Glyndebourne, this ranked in the top half dozen theatre experiences of my life - right up there with Ian McKellen as Richard II and other such greats. The music, the sets, the acting, the humour - it fairly sizzled with fun and intensity, and yet the poignant moments were no less emotional for that.

I describe it to friends as one of the plays at the end of Morecambe and Wise crossed with a Bollywood movie.

I came out of Glyndebourne on an incredible high. I smile just thinking about it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Upgrading to BD, 28 Jun 2012
By 
bayz (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: George Frideric Handel - Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2005) [Blu-ray] [2010] (Blu-ray)
I upgraded from the DVD to the blu ray version. I have always been disappointed with the rather soft picture quality of the DVD.

As expected the BD took care of that. Video is razor sharp with increased detail, especially in the darker parts of the scenes, all the usual improvements BD can offer. (In one scene there is a close-up of Giulio with his/her face in focus and the medals on his coat out of focus.)

What I didn't expect was the HUGE improvement in audio quality as well. There was a greater dynamic range and lots more detail, all clearly audible through my mid-fi stereo. To be sure I was making A/B comparisons of several arias using the same BD/DVD player feeding an external DAC, but the improvement of the BD was undeniable. I am not a technical person, so I can't explain why this is so. Apparently the audio on the DVD is encoded in 16 bits, while the BD uses 24 bits. (I hope this helps.) Audio on the BD is definitely in the demonstration class in my view.

All in all, a worthwile upgrade. I am very pleased with it.
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