This summer, Seagle Music Colony is presenting its first-ever Baroque opera, Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt). More commonly known simply as Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar), this Italian opera seria was composed when Handel was living in England. The opera was incredibly well received at its London premiere in 1724 and saw three revivals in England as well as productions in France and Germany during Handel’s lifetime alone. Fun fact: the music was so popular that after its premiere, Handel had the vocal score printed in pocket-size form for enthusiastic opera goers to purchase – a brilliant composer and a smart businessman to boot!
Things have, shall we say, changed a bit since Handel’s time. While Baroque opera isn’t mounted with as much frequency as say, Puccini, Giulio Cesare is still performed often in the US. Baroque opera sometimes feels like a hard sell – some listeners might argue that the stories are ancient and irrelevant, the music is repetitive, or the Italian language is hard to understand. Well folks – we’re here to tell you this simply isn’t true.
For this month’s blog, we asked the director and some of the artists to share with us why they find Giulio Cesare so compelling – from the varied music, to the plot with twists any reality show would envy, to the characters’ struggles with personal issues to which more than a few audience members will probably relate. We also asked the singers to discuss the challenges of preparing such complex characters within the strict confines of Baroque music. Read on to see what they had to say. [Read more…]