Michael Clement & Co. presents Händel’s “Giulio Cesare in Egitto”


7:30 pm • Friday, September 19th 2014
4:00 pm • Sunday, September 21st 2014
Emmanuel Baptist Church • Albany, NY

Typically regional favorite Michael Clement plays the role of coach and accompanist. However, with an abridged semi-staged version of Georg Friedrich Händel’s opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto, which features many familiar vocalists complete with chorus and orchestra, he switches to that of impresario for the two performances in Albany this weekend. Clement also serves this production in the roles of stage and music director, conducting from the harpsichord. How Baroque.

Whether or not Mr. Clement is exploring an actual venture into a formal entity—say …“Upstate Chamber Opera”—seems to be still in question (we’ll refer you to Joseph Dalton’s piece in the Times Union for more on that … click here).

The opera takes place in ancient Egypt (48 B.C.). Cleopatra uses her considerable wiles to persuade Cesare to join her in an alliance against her brutish brother Ptolemy [Tolomeo], with whom she rules the country. Plots and counter-plots ensue before Cesare and Cleopatra emerge triumphant in both love and war.

Written in the Baroque opera seria tradition, the opera emphasizes vocal display and ornamentation which heightens the drama. It was first performed at the King’s Theatre in Haymarket, London on February 20th in 1724. The opera was an immediate success.

…the opera is in full swing also, since Hendell’s new one, called Jules César – in which Cenesino and Cozzuna shine beyond all criticism – has been put on. The house was just as full at the seventh performance as at the first. —A contemporary wrote in a letter in March 10th 1724 *

This production includes soloists, chorus and orchestra. The cast, which will be somewhat different for each performances includes the following:

  • Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) —  Frances Pallozzi Wittman, mezzo-soprano
  • Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt — Amanda Cara Boyd / Deborah Rocco, sopranos
  • Tolomeo, her brother, King of Egypt — Elizabeth Lehmann / Carol Curran, mezzo-sopranos
  • Cornelia, widow of Pompey — Irina Tikhonenko, contralto
  • Sesto, her stepson — Heidi Skok / Kara Cornell, mezzo-sopranos
  • Achillo, Tolomeo’s General — Charles Martin, bass-baritone

Hmmm… seems there is a dearth of countertenors in the region as the roles of Cesare and Tolomeo are being sung by mezzo-sopranos. What a shame … such a beautiful sound. Regardless, there is open seating, little or no admission (but be as generous as you can, putting on opera ain’t cheap), refreshments at intermission and plenty of time will be available to speak with the artists after the performance.

So, just when you thought you might be suffering from ‘live-performance withdrawal’ for opera after the summer offerings, we have one more tidbit to savor. And may the house be as full on Sunday afternoon as on Friday evening!

* from a letter in the “Giulio Cesare” collection at the Handel House Museum.

Upcoming Events

  • Rolf Schulte, violin and James Winn, piano: Beethoven, Kurtág, Schumann, and Strauss
  • Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY
    Sunday, September 21st 2014 at 2:00 pm

  • John Cage Weekend: We Are All Going in Different Directions
  • Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
    Sunday, September 21st 2014 at 3:00 pm

  • Juilliard String Quartet: Haydn, Ran, and Schubert
  • South Mountain, Pittsfield, MA
    Sunday, September 21st 2014 at 3:00 pm

  • Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto
  • Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany, NY
    Sunday, September 21st 2014 at 4:00 pm

  • “WMHT Live!: violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Milana Chernyavskathe / Bach, Schumann, Franck
  • WMHT-FM (Radio Broadcasts), Troy (NY)
    Sunday, September 21st 2014 at 6:00 pm

  • Allyson Keyser, trumpet: Petrovics, Bozza, Turrin, Morales, Bolling
  • Taylor Auditorium – Schenectady County Community College, Schenectady, NY
    Tuesday, September 23rd 2014 at 7:30 pm

  • The Met in HD: La Fanciulla del West
  • The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
    Wednesday, September 24th 2014 at 12:55 pm

  • WMHT “No Ticket Required”: J.S. Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 6, No.1 / Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra
  • WMHT-FM (Radio Broadcasts), Troy (NY)
    Friday, September 26th 2014 at 1:00 pm

  • Paul Huang, violin and Louis Schwizgebel, piano: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Kreisler, and Corigliano
  • Tannery Pond, Mount Lebanon, NY
    Saturday, September 27th 2014 at 6:00 pm

  • Berkshire Bach Society presents St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble: Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi
  • Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA
    Saturday, September 27th 2014 at 7:30 pm

  • Leaf Peepers Concerts: A Program of Violins and Viola – Prokofiev, W.A. Mozart, Kodály, Dvorák
  • Congregation Anshe Emeth, Hudson, NY
    Saturday, September 27th 2014 at 8:00 pm

  • Mirror Visions Ensemble: Richard Pearson Thomas’ “Clean Plates Don’t Lie” Works by Barber, Berg, Bernstein and more
  • Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall at Williams College, Williamstown, MA
    Saturday, September 27th 2014 at 8:00 pm

  • Chamber Music at Bethel Woods: Mozart, Bridge, Tchaikovsky
  • Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY
    Sunday, September 28th 2014 at 2:00 pm

  • Emerson String Quartet: Beethoven, Liebermann, and Ravel
  • South Mountain, Pittsfield, MA
    Sunday, September 28th 2014 at 3:00 pm

  • Garrick Ohlsson, piano: Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin
  • Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
    Sunday, September 28th 2014 at 3:00 pm