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Opera takes liberties with story of Julius Caesar's love affair with Cleopatra

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

"With grand themes of historical warfare and passionate love, of heroic action and inner turmoil," "Giulio Cesare" (1724) by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) offers lyric drama in a truly epic scale. The opera freely takes liberties with the story of Julius Caesar's love affair with the ambitious young Cleopatra.

David McVicar's production of "Guilio Cesare" for the Metropolitan Opera "transforms 'Rome' into Victorian England and 'Egypt' into exotic India." Baroque theatre is infused with kung fu fighting and flapper and Bollywood dancing.

"Guilio Cesare," the last opera in the 2012-2013 season of simulcasts from the Metropolitan Opera can be seen at noon Saturday, April 27. Sung in Italian with English subtitles, the three act opera will have two intermissions and an approximate running time of 4 1/2 hours.

Opera lovers in West Virginia can see the simulcast at Cinemark Theater at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville; Regal Nitro Stadium 12; Hollywood Stadium in Granville, Morgantown; and Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg as well as Cinemark Theater in Ashland. An encore performance will be shown at the Barboursville Cinemark Theater at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 15.

Countertenor David Daniels will sing the title role of Giulio Cesare and coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay will sing the role of Cleopatra. The roles of Sesto will be sung by mezzo Alice Coote, Cornelia by mezzo Patricia Bardon, Tolomeo by countertenor Christophe Dumaux and Achilla by baritone Guido Lo consolo.

"Guilio Cesare inEgitto" was premiered at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, London, England in 1724. Born and raised in Germany, Handel composed many operas in Italian for the London audience.

Larry Stickler is a professor of music at Marshall University.