Giulio Cesare campagnebeeld
Photo: Marta Syrko

Five reasons to look forward to... Giulio Cesare

26 January 2023

1. Thrilling intrigue

Giulio Cesare tells a story of intrigue, passion and the lust for power. Cleopatra thinks she can deploy love as a weapon in her quest for more power but, to her surprise, she develops genuine affection for Cesare, the target of her machinations. Giulio Cesare is an opera full of hidden agendas, political strategies and a love that transcends any disguise or tactical move.

2. Calixto Bieito

After Die ersten Menschen, the Spanish opera and theatre director Calixto Bieito returns to Dutch National Opera for Giulio Cesare, a very different kind of family drama. With Bieito as the stage director, we can expect an interpretation of Handel’s opera that focuses on the dark side of human desire. He drew inspiration for his staging from the wealthy visitors seen at world fairs, with their craving for money and power. He places the characters in a fairly literal version of the Saudi Arabian pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

3. Wonderful baroque music

The plot may be rather complicated, but the music of Giulio Cesare speaks for itself. Handel composed one of his masterpieces when he wrote this opera, which is ranked with his other successful operas Tamerlano and Rodelinda – all written during his time as director of the Royal Academy of Music in London. The sound palette of Giulio Cesare epitomises baroque, with old instruments such as the harpsichord, recorder and viola da gamba colouring the orchestra. The opera features amazing virtuoso arias full of vocal fireworks as well as the most subtle arias Handel ever composed.

4. Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée

Giulio Cesare is in excellent hands with conductor Emmanuelle Haïm, a specialist in this repertoire and famed for her many prize-winning CD recordings. The popular conductor is making her debut at Dutch National Opera with this masterpiece of the baroque repertoire. For this occasion, she is bringing her own baroque orchestra, Le Concert d'Astrée.

5. Star cast

Bieito and Haïm are working with a line-up of great stage personalities, with the French soprano Julie Fuchs as Cleopatra and counter-tenor and celebrated Handel interpreter Christophe Dumaux as Giulio Cesare. The cast includes two more counter-tenors: Cameron Shahbazi, a former associate artist of Dutch National Opera Studio, and Jake Ingbar, a current associate artist of the Studio.