Salzburg Whitsun Festival Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Xl_web-cesare_in_egitto_hp_0676 © Hans Jörg Michel

It is Cecilia Bartoli´s first year as artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Following Ricardo Muti she put it under the theme Cleopatra. Händel´s Opera Giulio Cesare in egitto being the main opus of the 4 Day festival.
Certainly she is the key artist herself but she is surrounded by a distinct selection of stars accompanying her throughout. For the direction, costums, light and choreographie she invited the Belgian/ French Duo Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier and their team. She has already worked with them several times. They create a vivid, fast changing, colourful, entertaining realisation whereas they do not miss a well balanced social and political actuality and critical presence. There are very intense, touching pictures designed by a sensible cast direction.

Above all the scenes of Cornelia´s and Sesto´s deep sorrow over the killing of their beloved husband and their sense for revenge or Tolomeo´s sarcastic and brutal desires for power and sex. Although the audience accepts their interpretion with mixed feelings they achieved a very lively and amusing presentation of this baroque opera in full length of 5 hours. On stage we could face a wonderful summit of the worlds best Countertenors. Based on original performance manners the roles of Ceasar, Tolomeo, Sesto and Nirena were sung by them. It was worth noting the diffences of sounds and timbres of their voices and offered a glimpse on the registers and capabilities of this pitch of voice. Andreas Scholl in the title role showed his fine and gentle voice full of flexibility but lacking strength in the dramatic duetts with Cleopatra. Stunning the performance of the darling of the public Philippe Jaroussky. His technique, timbre and volume of voice is impressive showing all his expression of feelings of the young Sesto. Christophe Dumaux´s Tolomeo is equally persuasive and his voices is sensitive, strong and smoothly performing. A tribute is made to Jochen Kowalski and his revival of the countertenor in the sixties. His interpretation of Nirena, Cleopatras servant is fresh, playful and his presence on stage unchanged. Cecilia Bartoli´s interpretation of Cleopatra shows once more her great abilities on stage. She internalises the powers of a women greedy of power and embedded in love. Wonderful the performance of Anne Sophie von Otter as Cornelia. Her arias full of grief and despair and especially the duetts with Sesto are highlights of the evening. Giovanni Antonini is well experienced with baroque operas. He accompanies the oppulent play on stage with an intimate and transparent conducting of the Gardino Armonico. The audience is thankful and delighted and remunerates all the cast with a hearty applaus. 

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