The whole Caesar: unabridged Handel is no hardship

02 November 2017 | by Robert Thicknesse



ETO’s staging of Handel’s big 1724 opera seria (on tour through November) sets up the religious conflicts of the time as its hinterland. Here is naughty old France again, not as existential threat but rather as sex-tourism destination for early colonial English gentle­men, epicene Versailles the locus of all manner of lax behaviour led by the voluptuary Ptolemy, here portrayed as Louis XV, struggling to fill great-grandpa XIV’s wig. Cleopatra, Ptolemy’s sister, is a Papish hussy doing a number on our sturdy English Caesar for political ends. Or is it the other way round? Caesar is a wily old bird, after all.


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