Olivier award-winning English Touring Opera (ETO) returns to the Theatre Royal Bath at the end of this month to perform a new production of Handel’s masterpiece Julius Caesar uniquely divided in two parts. This is the very first time that this opera has been presented complete in Bath, with over four hours of music split into two performances, each telling a distinct story over two consecutive nights. On Monday 30th October audiences can enjoy Part I: The Death of Pompey followed on Tuesday 31st October by Part II: Cleopatra’s Needle.
Julius Caesar (Giulio Cesare) is Handel’s most celebrated opera and a real clash of titans on stage. A thrilling story of passion and revenge, it features a treasure trove of great arias of immense dramatic intensity. Across two intriguing performances, the opera follows the events surrounding Julius Caesar’s conquest of Egypt, as well as his uneasy alliance and romance with fabled Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
In Part I: The Death of Pompey with Caesar’s rival overthrown a small group of top-ranking Romans find their lives turned upside down in Egypt. In the tumultuous aftermath of Pompey’s defeat, Caesar, Cleopatra and her brother, Tolomeo, fight for Egypt’s throne as passion and revenge govern their bitter power struggles. The evening ends with Cleopatra’s unmissable aria, Se pietà di me non senti, which is also repeated at the start of Part II for those people only attending the second show. During this performance, the cast of ETO are joined by singers from the Wiltshire Music Centre Choir.
Handel’s greatest creation continues in Part II: Cleopatra’s Needle as the Battle for the Kingdom of the Nile reaches crisis point. With Caesar presumed dead, Cleopatra held captive by her brother and Pompey’s family enslaved, the key protagonists reach their lowest ebb. Will Caesar and Cleopatra regain the upper hand over Tolomeo? Will their relationship survive the incoming war? When their fortune changes, Caesar and Cleopatra are changed also, in ways they never expected. This performance starts with the last five scenes from Part I performed from a different narrative perspective reflected in different musical ornamentation to give audiences a complete and rounded experience.
Directed by James Conway, this exhilaratingly epic drama also features the company’s partner baroque orchestra The Old Street Band. Jonathan Peter Kenny conducts a first-rate cast including Soraya Mafi as Cleopatra, counter tenors Christopher Ainslie as Julius Caesar and Benjamin Williamson as Tolomeo, with Catherine Carby as Cornelia, Kitty Whately as Sesto and Benjamin Bevan as Achilla.
The Olivier award-winning company are among the leading producers of Handel operas in the UK, having produced fifteen Handel operas in the past fifteen years of James Conway’s leadership as ETO General Director. The company’s focus on Handel has played a big part in re-establishing Handel’s prominence in the operatic repertoire.
It is possible to purchase tickets independently for each of the two Parts, allowing audiences to watch either Part I or Part II, and a multi-buy discount is available for those wishing to experience Handel’s celebrated work in full.
ETO will host a Pre-Show Talk before both performances at the Theatre Royal Bath at 6.30pm. Tickets for the Pre-Show Talks, which are free of charge, can be booked via the Box Office.
Tickets for JULIUS CAESAR: Part I and Part II at the Theatre Royal Bath are available from the Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk