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Cleopatra - Handel: Giulio Cesare Arias / Natalie Dessay


Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 07872  
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc is highly attractive.

Cleopatra’s part in Giulio Cesare must be one of the toughest roles in opera literature – but also one of the most grateful. Handel seems to have been uncommonly inspired when he wrote her arias, which says a lot. He was the true professional who rarely produced anything second-rate but far more often surpassed his generally high level. This opera is certainly inspired from beginning to end and is regarded by many not only as Handel’s best opera but the best opera seria ever.

On this disc Natalie Dessay sings eight arias for Cleopatra plus some recitatives to put the arias in context. These are not all the arias Handel wrote for her. In the first
Read more act there are another two besides: Tutto può: Non disperar and Tu la mia stella. On the other hand Dessay includes two arias that Handel wrote but replaced with those normally heard today. Thus Se pietà is followed by Per dar vita, which was Handel’s first thought for that particular scene. He then reworked Per dar vita as the aria for Sesto in the last act. Troppo crudeli (tr. 13) is interesting to hear. It’s a good piece of music but Handel knew a winner when he had composed Piangerò for the third act and it is probably the best known aria in the whole opera.

Emmanuelle Haïm is one of today’s foremost experts on baroque music and together with Le Concert d’Astrée she has built up an impressive discography, which has met with universal acclaim. They play here at pitch A=415 Hz and produce a biting yet transparent sound, demonstrated on their own in a fresh and springy overture, a properly warlike Sinfonia bellica and superb French horns in the sinfonia that precedes the last scene.

The qualities of Natalie Dessay are well known by now and she is in excellent voice here. Her technical command is something to be taken for granted but still there are copious opportunities to marvel at her virtuosity. Da tempeste il legno infranto is as good an example as any.

But Handel doesn’t only require drama and flair, he also demands beauty of tone. Ms Dessay has that as well – and in abundance. Just listen to V’adoro, pupille! So ravishingly beautiful! Piangerò, the noblest of Handel’s arias and is sung here with warmth and sadness, while the fast middle section, where she expresses her wish to trouble the tyrant night and day with her ghost, is intensely vitriolic. The da capo section is stylishly embellished – as in all the arias. A masterly reading.

She is well partnered by Sonia Prina’s Cesare. The Italian contralto has made Handel something of a speciality. Her homepage lists fourteen Handel operas and among them she has sung Giulio Cesare in Lille under the baton of Emmanuelle Haïm. Natalie Dessay and Sonia Prina are nicely contrasted in the final duet.

Giulio Cesare brims over with wonderful music and no opera lover – bar those who can’t stand baroque music – should be without a complete recording. There are several to choose from. But as a complement to that recording this disc is highly attractive.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Aria(s) by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
2.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Tutto può donna vezzosa by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
3.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: V'adoro pupille by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
4.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Venere bella by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
5.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Vuo dar vita by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
6.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Piangerò la sorte mia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
7.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Troppo crudeli siete by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
8.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Da tempeste il legno infranto by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
9.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Caro! Più amabile beltà by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Natalie Dessay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Emmanuelle Haïm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert D'Astrée
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1724; London, England 

Sound Samples

Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Ouverture: Handel: Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Ouverture
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto primo - Scene 7: Tutto può donna vezzosa
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 2: Dov'è, Niren, dov'è l'anima mia?
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 2: V'adoro, pupille
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 7: Esser qui deve in breve
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 7: Venere bella
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 8: Che sento? Oh dio!
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 8: Se pietà di me non senti
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto secondo - Scene 8: Per dar vita all'idol mio
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Sinfonia
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene 3: E pur così in un giorno
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene 3: Piangerò la sorte mia
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene 3: Troppo crudeli siete
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene 7: Voi che mie fide ancelle
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene 7: Forzai l'ingresso a tua salvezza, o cara!
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene 7: Da tempeste il legno infranto
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Sinfonia
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene ultima: Bellissima Cleopatra
Cleopatra - Arias from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, HWV 17: Atto terzo - Scene ultima: Caro! Bella!

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