qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

We're off to Glyndebourne ...

or, Carry on Cleo - The Musical.

I selected this year's Glyndebourne Prom - Handel's Julius Caesar - following a performance in Reading of Alexander's Feast in April. For me the Proms this year have come along like buses - this is the fourth in seven days.

As the audience settled, the Season Ticket holders sprang forth: "Julius Caesar to Audience: Infamy, Infamy, they've all got it in for me!", to which there were groans and applause in equal measure. But in many ways it was an appropriate opening comment, as the opera, despite its length and tragic elements, was also performed in a decidedly comic manner. Sarah Connolly appeared in a great-coat as a cross-dressing Caesar, accompanied by Curius, attired in a kilt and pith-helmet that made him look more like a member of the Third Foot and Mouth Regiment from Carry on Up The Khyber. Ptolemy was more playboy than villain; Danielle de Niese was a flirt-o-matic Cleopatra, marvellously accompanied by Rachid Ben Abdeslam as Nirenus, her eunuch, who was clearly caught up in the excitement of it all (Ab Fab-style). It struck me that Handel was very good at using the music to convey tragedy, for example in Cornelia's aria at the end of Act I, but that he had no specific style for comedy, which was supplied mainly by the facial expressions and mannerisms of the singers, and accompanying dancers/actors.

The stage at the Royal Albert Hall had been extended to allow for the performance, which was effective, though it did make William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment seem distant by Proms standards. Their playing was very good; the period horns, when they were used, were noticeably better than the Philharmonia Baroque a few weeks ago. At just under 4 hours of music, it was a long concert, and it did not finish on time, but despite catching a later train then I had hoped, it was another splendid Proms experience.
Tags: music
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