Giulio Cesare – Virtuosi Summer Institute Opera


Thu, August 23, Tunxis Community College, Farmington, CT

DescriptionCesare- Allison Waggener Cleopatra- Hana Omori Sesto- Rachel Abrams Cornelia – Julie Rumbold
Tolomeo- Kateryna Diachenko Nireno/ body guard- Sara Trenner Curio/ body guard- Letitia Stevens
Sun, August 26, 2p, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103, USA
Description Cesare- Madison Marie McIntosh Cleopatra- Letitia Stevens Sesto- Sara Trenner Cornelia – Julie Rumbold
Tolomeo- Kateryna Diachenko Nireno/ body guard- Rachel Abrams Curio/ body guard- Hana Omori
Jurate Svedaite, Stage Director VMI Festival Orchestra, Adrian Sylveen, conductor

Libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym

G.F. HANDEL (1685-1759)

Conductor: Adrian Sylveen

Stage Director: Jurate Svedaite

Coach Accompanist: Blake Hansen

Vocal Coaching: Lynne Strow Piccolo

TODAY’S SETTING

Estranged business partners Cesare and Pompeo are battling over who is going to be in charge of the law firm. Tolomeo and Cleopatra – step siblings (rumored to have an on and off incestuous relationship) are co-directors of the firm’s foreign subsidiary. Tolomeo blackmails Pompeo in hopes of ingratiating himself with Cesare as Tolomeo wants to rid himself and his company of Cleopatra. Cornelia, Pompeo’s wife and sole heir to Pompeo’s share of the firm thinks her husband left town in turmoil but finds out that he killed himself in the midst of the scandal the night before. The news is brought to everyone by Achilla – ambitious, cunning with her own clear agenda – a senior office manager in Tolomeo and Cleopatra’s company. Sesto, Pompeo’s son, is a fearless youth who wants to avenge his father and protect his mother from unwanted advances of Curio, Achilla and Tolomeo. Achilla also holds the key card to the company’s vault where all the secrets and assets are kept. The one who has the key card and the medal of the company has the power.

Have we changed much during those 2000 years between the times of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, the Roman Republic, Gaul, the Kingdom of Egypt, times of great warriors, sharp politicians and engineering marvels and our times that gave us not only the great American democracy, psychoanalysis, penicillin, organ transplants, telegraph, telephone, X-ray, the internet, cellular connections, as well as the Red October Revolution, WW I and WW II, concentration camps and the invention of the atomic bomb? Have we evolved, or with all our knowledge of science, do we still fall victim to a basic human condition that drives us no matter what – the instinct of survival? Is it only the time, the conditions and the means of delivery have changed, but the driving force that effects our decision-making process will remain the same? Do we really need to divide ourselves into US and THEM and treat THEM as less deserving because only WE need to thrive. In these sharply divided times, are we able to find a common language and no matter what our beliefs, social status, nationality, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation can we ALL be ONE – just another human?

ORIGINAL SYNOPSIS

Julius Caesar is embroiled in a bitter struggle with Pompey the Great for control of the Roman world. In their most recent battle, at Pharsalus (48 BCE), Caesar defeated his rival, who subsequently fled to Egypt, which is under the joint rule of Ptolemy and his sister, Cleopatra. Caesar has pursued Pompey to Alexandria.

ACT I. The Egyptian people welcome Caesar (Cesare) to Alexandria (“Viva, viva”). Cornelia and Sextus (Sesto), Pompey’s wife and son, request that peace be made between the two Romans, and Caesar agrees. Just then, Achillas (Achilla), the Commander of the Egyptian army, enters with a gift for Caesar from Ptolemy (Tolomeo), the King of Egypt. Sextus assures his mother that he will avenge his father’s death (“Svegliatevi nel core”).

In her apartments in the royal palace, Cleopatra declares the throne will one day be hers alone. Nirenus (Nireno), her confidante, tells her that her brother has sent Pompey’s head to Caesar. She decides to address Caesar on different and more effective terms (“Non disperar”). Ptolemy enters and the siblings quarrel over who is more fit to be the Egyptian sovereign. After Cleopatra leaves, Achillas tells Ptolemy that his gift to Caesar was not welcomed. He advises his king to have Caesar murdered. Achillas himself will see to the murder if Ptolemy will reward him with Cornelia’s hand in marriage. Ptolemy agrees, although he, too, desires Cornelia (“L’empio, sleale”). At his encampment, Caesar contemplates the urn containing Pompey’s ashes (“Alma del gran Pompeo”). He ponders the fleeting nature of life. Cleopatra enters and announces herself as “Lydia,” an attendant of Queen Cleopatra. Caesar is struck by her beauty. She tells Caesar that, though she is of noble birth, Ptolemy has deprived her of her fortune. She asks for justice. Caesar tells her that he is going to Ptolemy’s court and will present her request there (“Non è si vago e bello”). Once he has gone, Nirenus assures Cleopatra that she has snared the affections of the Roman. Cornelia approaches tomourn Pompey’s ashes . She picks up a sword from the pile of trophies and swears vengeance for her husband’s killing. Sextus assures her that he will fulfill his duty. In the royal palace, Caesar voices his disapproval of Pompey’s murder to Ptolemy. Left alone, he reflects that the crafty hunter moves silently and unseen (“Va tacito e nascosto”). He departs. As punishment for their bold words, the king orders Sextus confined to the palace and Cornelia to the harem garden, mother and son bemoan their cruel fate (“Son nata a lagrimar”).

ACT II. In the palace garden, Nirenus assures Cleopatra (still disguised as “Lydia”) that Caesar will be fascinated by her. “Lydia” provides entertainment for Caesar, presenting herself as Virtue (“V’adoro, pupille”). Caesar is enchanted While Cornelia grieves , Achillas enters and again courts her. Ptolemy arrives. Achillas tells him that he has been unsuccessful with Cornelia but assures him he will kill Caesar that very day. Ptolemy tries to court Cornelia in the palace harem. Cornelia threatens to kill herself (“Cessa omai di sospirare”), but Sextus appears with Nirenus in time to prevent her. Sextus renews his promise to kill Ptolemy (“L’angue offeso”). Cornelia blesses her avenging son. Caesar enters and is struck by “Lydia’s” beauty. Curius (Curio), the Roman Tribune, runs in with the news that the Egyptians are calling for Caesar’s death. “Lydia” reveals her true identity as Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and offers her aid in quelling the uprising. She advises Caesar to flee the region, but he intends to master the situation (“Al lampo dell’armi”). Cleopatra, alone and recognizing Caesar’s extreme vulnerability, begs the gods for help.

ACT III. Ptolemy emerges victorious from a struggle between his and Cleopatra’s forces; she is now her brother’s prisoner. He puts her in chains and leaves, telling her she will soon kneel before him (“Domerò la tua fierezza”). Cleopatra mourns her fate and is led off (“Piangerò”).

Caesar appears alone by the sea, having survived a drowning attempt in the Alexandria harbor and been left for dead (“Aure, deh per pietà”). He hides as Sextus and Nirenus enter, looking for Ptolemy. They discover Achillas, mortally wounded at the water’s edge. He confesses to the murder of Pompey, asks them to speak kindly of him to Cornelia, and gives them a ring, telling them that a hundred armed men are ready to obey its bearer. He dies. Caesar comes forward and takes the ring from Sextus. He explains his escape from the harbor and orders them to follow as he goes to collect the soldiers and rescue Cornelia and Cleopatra from Ptolemy. In her apartments, Cleopatra is bidding her attendants farewell when Caesar and the soldiers rush in and free her. He leaves to continue the battle as she rejoices at her sudden turn of fortune. Ptolemy tries to court Cornelia in the palace harem, but Sextus discovers them and kills the king. Cornelia blesses her avenging son. Caesar assures Sextus of his friendship and proclaims his love for Cleopatra. He places her on the throne as the people celebrate

Madison Marie McIntosh, mezzo-soprano, performed the role of Ernesta in Un avvertimento ai gelosi, by Manuel García, at Caramoor last summer. This summer, she sang the Eco and covered the title role of Tancredi “rifatto” in the inaugural season of Will Crutchfield’s Teatro Nuovo. In September, she will appear as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Opera Theatre of Montclair. In 2014, she worked with Maestro Alberto Zedda as a young artist of the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro, Italy, and sang Delia in the Rossini Opera Festival’s Il viaggio a Reims. Other roles include Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Isabella (L’Italiana in Algeri), Angelina (La Cenerentola), Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Sara (Roberto Devereux), Giovanna Seymour (Anna Bolena), and lead roles in three world premières.

Allison Waggener, mezzo-soprano, praised by critics as a singer of “strength and vocal beauty” with “a fine legato,” recently made her Carnegie Hall debut playing Prince Orlofsky in New York Lyric Opera Theatre’s Opera Gala. Favorite operatic roles include Miss Pooder in Abilene Opera’s The Hotel Casablanca, Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte, Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmelites, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, and the title role in Cenerentola. In addition to singing standard repertoire, she also enjoys performing in a variety of other forms, including performing with Madison Lyric Stage as Elvira in Blithe Spirit and Kathy in Company, recently returning to the dance stage with Mixt Company and participating in the E|Merge residency at Earthdance in the Berkshires.

Hana Omori, soprano, made the move from Japan to Boston to pursue her artistic dreams 1 year and a half ago. Having received a masters degree in vocal performance from Kyoto City University of Art and studied at Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera at Longy School of Music where she studies with Robert Honeysucker and Donna Roll. Recent credits include Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Antonia) with Longy School of Music, La Clemenza di Tito (Servilia) with Promenade Opera Project, Carmen (Micaëla/Frasquita) with Shunzyuza Opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Berta) with Syunzyuza Opera, L’elisir d’amor (Adina) with Kyoto University of Art, Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 Soprano Sololist with KiraKira Boshi Symphony Orchestra. Visit her at https://hanaomorisop.wixsite.com/hanaomori.

Letitia Stevens, Curio/Cleopatra: newly-minted soprano, recently performed Queen of the Night with Connecticut Lyric Opera. Other recent roles include: Prince Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus, Opera 51; Benoit/Alcindoro, La femme bohème, MetroWest Opera; Marcellina, Marriage of Figaro; the Witch in Hansel & Gretel; and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Bunthorne, Edith, and Fairy Queen. Ms. Stevens was nominated, “Best Female Performer,” for Katisha at the 2015 Int’l. Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. Performances with orchestra: Der Freischütz Mass, Berlioz, Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart, Requiem, Handel, Messiah. She holds an MM, with distinction, in Vocal Performance from the Longy School of Music, where she was an honors winner.

Mezzo-Soprano Rachel Abrams is thrilled to sing the role of Sesto/Nireno in Giulio Cesare. This year, she joined CT Lyric Opera’s Young Artist Program singing the roles of Dido/Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas, Third Lady in The Magic Flute, and sang in the ensemble of Aïda. Rachel has also performed with Opera Theater of Connecticut, Salt Marsh Opera, Berkshire Opera Festival, Greater Worcester Opera, Nahant Music Festival, Hartford Opera Theater and NEMPAC in Boston. Upcoming engagements include Annina in Panopera’s La Traviata and alto soloist in the Messiah with the Cappella Cantorum. She also enjoys teaching private voice and piano lessons out of her studio in West Hartford. www.rachelabrams.com

Sara Trenner (UConn, 2016) is currently a resident young artist with Connecticut Lyric Opera, most recently performing in the chorus of Aida, and as the Second Lady in last year’s production of The Magic Flute. This past summer, Sara performed with the Opera Theater of Connecticut as a chorus section leader in their production ofTosca. Her next engagement will be playing Mercedes in CT Lyric’s production of Carmen this Fall. Sara would like to thank CT Lyric Opera for all the wonderful opportunities, and her friends and family for supporting her.

Kateryna Diachenko, soprano, a native of Ukraine, studied at the Mykola Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy Ukraine from 2008 – 2013, Performed in a opera “Cosi fan tutte” by Mozart (Fiordiligi), “Zaporozhec za Dunaem” by Gulak-Artemovsky (Oksana), scheduled to sing solo in Handle’s “Messiah”. She made her American opera debut has Barbarina in CLO’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Kateryna taught violin and singing at a music school in Ukraline.

Soprano Laura Prestia is making her operatic debut as Achilla. Laura has appeared as Bloody Mary in “South Pacific,” played various chorus parts in the musicals “The Producers,” “Grease,” “Damn Yankees,” and “Anything Goes,” and is an accomplished pianist. She is a 2010 graduate of Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, where she received a B.A. in Music and took lessons in both voice and piano. Laura wishes to thank her husband Vinny for his constant support, Kate Hardman for encouraging her to get back on the stage, and her family who have spent untold hours and dollars on her musical endeavors from a very young age.

Virtuosi Institute Festival Orchestra

Adrian Sylveen, Conductor, harpsichord

Violins:
Julia Plumer, Brunilda Myftaraj, Tejal Nair, Tanner Aikens, Dana Takaki

Viola:
Jonathan Kane

Cellos:
Andrew Rosen, Anna Cates

Double-Bass:
Ed Hasspacher

Flute:
Jill Maurer-Davis

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