FT Reviews Handel’s Guilio Cesare in Egitto

Guilio Cesare in Egitto, Boston Baroque
By George Loomis
Published: November 1 2004 02:00 | Last updated: November 1 2004 02:00
One of the many virtues of Handel’s Guilio Cesare in Egitto is that the roles of Caesar and Cleopatra are so magnificently conceived yet so evenly matched. In their early, flirtatious scenes together, when Cleopatra is disguised as one of her attendant ladies, it’s a little like watching Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Matters take a serious turn when Caesar is threatened by a conspiracy, but that brings a whole new emotional dimension into play.

In entrusting these characters to the rising countertenor David Walker and the captivating soprano Lisa Saffer, Boston Baroque, America’s oldest professional period-instrument orchestra, looked as though it might score a success.
But fate can cause the best-laid operatic plans to run amok, and so it did when Walker developed laryngitis. He acted the part and sang the recitatives, but another countertenor sang Caesar’s arias, or what was left of them after wholesale pruning.
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