Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Georg Friedrich Händel 1685–1759
Dramma per musica in 3 acts
Libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym
First performed February 20 1724, King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London
Sung in Italian with German & English surtitles
Introductory talks (in German) in the Holzfoyer 30 minutes before performances begin
There's a chamber music concert on April 7 inspired by this work
Caesar & Cleopatra. A love-affair which wrote history and inspired Handel to one of his greatest triumphs
Intended appeasement is quickly followed by murder and manslaughter: Giulo Cesare beat his adversary Pompeo and followed him back to Egypt. Pompeo’s wife Cornelia and son Sesto concede Cesare‘s victory, but beg him to be reconciled with Pompeo. The Roman commander seems willing but before peace can be made Tolomeo, King of Egypt, sends Pompeo’s severed head to Cesare as a present. Cesare is horrified, Cornelia and Sesto swear revenge, and Cleopatra sees a chance to beat her brother to the Egyptian throne, with Cesare’s help.
Subplots, complications and fast changes of scene combine to create a love drama and political thriller. Sadness, revenge, thirsting for power, love - Handel explored his protagonists' complex existential emotions. While giving free rein to the way he dealt with historical facts, the composer guides his work as befitting the tradition of opera seria with a »lieto fine«: a splendid tableau with four horns accompany Cesare’s crowning Cleopatra as Queen of Egypt.