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Wednesday, September 01, 2004
  Giulio Cesare: Act II, Scene 2
Recitative and Aria: V'adoro pupille
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 6 Tracks 20-24

In the 90's we saw Giulio hamming it up on the beach. This was a great moment to put in an anthology. It is the moment of his greatest defeat, the moment he is most in danger. Surrounded by his slain warriors, we see him on the l'infortunate arene just briefly after his enemies have past. What does he do? He wonders what Cleopatra is doing. It is inspired drama. Best of all we get to listen to a fair serving of bass-baritone singing. Up to this point in the anthology we have heard a number of men singing very high. It is wonderful to hear a bass-baritone happy to be Giulio Cesare.

Advance to the updated anthology and Cesare is about ready to take over Cleopatra's arias. This excerpt stops short of their duet, which is fine. I cannot imagine a good reason for Cesare to be sung by such a high voice. He is so compelling and Cleopatra so beautiful by contrast when the part is sung by a low voice. But this excerpt is really about her, not him.

What I like about her is the relaxed brilliance of her singing. The even pace of this aria is an important personality trait of Cleo's. We hear that she is a person in control, not hurried, and capable of large leaps and stunning high notes without breaking a sweat. Perhaps the only thing better than Giulio by the sea is Cleopatra playing dress-up on Parnassus.
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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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