: 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.