The Toulon 2015 “Giulio Cesare” Liveblogging Thread

opernglas

Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Handel’s “Giulio Cesare in Egitto” from Toulon 2015, starring
Giulio Cesare: Sonia Prina *screaming*
Cleopatra: Roberta Invernizzi
Cornelia:Teresa Iervolino *screaming*
Sesto: Monica Bacelli *screaming*
Tolomeo: Daniela Pini *more ladies!*
Achilla: Riccardo Novaro
Nireno: Benedetta Mazzucato *yet more ladies! Maximum of ladies!*
Curio: Pierre Bessière.

Rinaldo Alessandrini conducts the Toulon opera orchestra, the Xena-levels-of-camp staging is by Frédéric Andrau.

The show can be found on YT in an 8-part playlist; the libretto in English, German and Italian can be found here.

354 thoughts on “The Toulon 2015 “Giulio Cesare” Liveblogging Thread”

  1. okay, I returned at 8 from the pool, and I could really use some of that chicken right about now.
    (also, is that a fanny pack or a beer pouch on Giulio?)

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      1. the one that got placed in between the chicken und the fruit and that belongs to Cesare’s central enemy, the wife of which is sitting to his right.

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  2. And now for some contrasting contralto aria.
    (Iervolino shows that same warmth, but the dry front recording doesn’t catch her lower range too well)

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  3. It is interesting to see an opera filmed without extreme close-ups and dialog cuts again. I get to choose where to look again.

    (did Achilla just check his cell phone?)

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    1. i see a pattern: Alessandrini has someone taping these shows i think, there’s an equivalent semiblurry but a bit better sound quality, same 1 camera zooming, of his l’incoronazione di poppea (the one that introduced me to Monteverdi.. with SM as Ottone..)

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  4. Look at those gauntlets. I half expect Cornelia to tear off the wig,c all for Vagaus and say, “Let’s wreck some havoc and chat up some ladies – Sesto, you can stay up and watch hockey.”

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      1. Same here – coffee and chuckling at comments on the side while sorting through puzzles and explaining photography and singing the Wickie song with the best wife on earth to the amusement of the under-five crowd.🙂

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  5. Sesto, oversized tops were a thing of the 90s. not the 2010s.
    (but it is sure good to be seeing/hearling Bacelli again)

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  6. This whole ironic staging has the effect of gettting more and more funny on re-watching. Or it may be my low blood sugar. This head really looks silly

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      1. now i remember more! DtO interviewed Alessandrini once and he said he wants all Italian-cast because they can pronounce things right and have comraderie among other things…, and Invernizzi was also in his other Poppea, that’s how i remember her (she was a great Drusila) . lovely warm voice!

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        1. I wondered the same thing, but Invernizzi is really distinct in the ease of tone production while not sounding “bright” or very sharp-cut at the edges in her timbre – there is a mellowness/warmth about it that perhaps makes a difference to soprano-challenged ears?

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          1. i didn’t want to kill my credit by saying i’m not sure i could distinguish PP or MP or LRuiten😉 (may be PP…). but warm voices i can hear well, including Harteros .

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          2. PP is really not so easy to distinguish at least on first impression, surprisingly, but it may be because her uniqueness is more tied to expression (and of course to her acting) then to her voice itself.

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          3. yes, that’s what i mean. i think if i listen for her phrasing i’d recognize (perhaps). Also a bit related is VG’s romeo, which I haven’t posted my impression.. it’s because she’s singing so high!! i couldn’t even recognize her voice! so i went back to what i’m used to hear her in, and indeed she sounds quite different when singing Vivaldi and Händel.. and the entrance aria of Romeo is indeed a bit of a shock for me, fisrt to get used to her voice, then to the vibrato… even by the end of the entire 2 hrs i still couldn’t say if i hear it i’d recognize her immediately! so i thought i should have another listen before commenting.. (i’ve heard her in rossini, but i think the roles were not so high, Tancredi, Cenerentola, Rosina..)

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          4. The Romeo was so interesting in that regard – of course it’s her trademark timbre, but I caught myself several times thinking “I never noticed how clear/bright her tone actually is in color!” That’s really brought out a lot more by the higher part.

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          5. yes, and until that point i think i have mostly always paid attention to her low notes🙂 . i ended up re-listen to a lot of her Vivaldi, Händel, Hasse, and *especially* in Pergolesi Stabat Mater.. indeed the “concentrated brightness” in Romeo was something that caught me off guard (for some reason..) . But i think i get it now, you “think” you know a singer’s voice and style of singing such that you recognize and understand their phrasing.. and suddenly they pull out a different (primarily only because i haven’t focused on) aspect that makes you rethink if you know her at all!

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          6. I could imagine that this „change“ of VG’s voice even in the lower passages has to do with how high the part of Romeo is located in general. She may be at her own limits regarding the high notes and may adapt her voice to these demands with the way she places her voice very frontal, because that might help with staying loose and open in the high parts. And the frontal placement automatically sounds more piercing, so maybe more challenging for your ears. Just a theory, I hope she doesn’t read this and goes like „What the hell is this nonsense!“

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          7. I don’t think singers tend to stumble into our bat cave here😉 but nonetheless, it’s a valid theory – I’ve been thinking along the same lines, with what thadieu mentioned in VG having a teacher change and a new approach to heights (she does not sound at her limits to me in the recording).

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          8. Oh, good question. And if she *did* change some technical aspects in last year’s, that would make sense

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          9. yes, and I would add to that her approach of developing a new physicality for each part she takes on. In that Vienna Staatsoper interview (on Manon, I think) she talks about building body language, and perhaps some of that “I build something new” is also part of her vocal approach, in genuinely trying to build, with her material, somethign that fits her idea of a part, instead of adapting that part to a trademark PP style.

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          10. We definitely have to add more PP to our weekly outings! One particular scene or rather only moment I strangely can’t get out of my head is her entrance in Rigoletto where she is raised out of the floor on the mobile stage (sorry, no idea about the terminology here) and that would be quite effective in general (at least for childish me), but PP appearance was so striking, owning the stage the moment she enters, and I was really like „how cool is that?“.

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          11. We could always choose some PO for this week? I’d say Lulu, but that may be a bit on the heavy side.

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          12. Is there a complete clip of Lulu floating around? I wanted to see that for quite a while! (only know this scene with Breslik on YT)

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    1. yes, that is a good way to put it – effortless, and not that cold-cutting thing you get sometimes with very good coloratura singers who are less about middle register warmth

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    1. I heard her before – now I wonder where. She does not transport that well in this aria right now (a little low perhaps?), but the recit really showcased her nicely.

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      1. although with the recording, we can’t tell if her lower range is also not captured well?
        some kind of bathing ritual? everyone is stripping in the “well”
        i like the head gear!

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  7. Looking at all the costumes, I’d say someone in the wardrobe department was getting an MA in creating gradients.
    (also, this Cesare could almost pass for a Falstaff, and I am pretty sure Prina could pull off that one, too)

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    1. with the costumes choices, I guess we can not really blame Cesare for not keeping his eyes up where they belong. Nicely played.
      (I wonder how they will put the romance in this very ironic setting of Cesar being a cynic party king who only cares about the next chicken)

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      1. as you said above, he gets very clumsy around her, quite cute. Also, Prina and Invernizzi of course know each other very well, and you can tell, how much fun they have playing this

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  8. This Sesto makes me think of Ruggiero (not the Geneva one, though. We will not talk about Geneva. That one went against its own convention.)

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  9. The production’s effect is curious – the costumes are total camp and don’t let you get emotional, the singing is actually too dreamy for the plot, and then you get the kind of ‘vocal acting’ here and there that pulls you into it regardless.

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      1. I really must rewatch that one (if thadieu has not seen that one, we could also do a vintage rewatch liveblog at some point, with lots of cold drinks on the side😉 )

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  10. How does she manage to keep front projection intact while being fake shaved? Wow. (Quite a few ones I know would have rejected that staging idea out front with “I cannot sing like that!”)

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  11. Yo, Achilla and Tolomeo: if you want to get your grubby hands on Cornelia, queue up at the end of the line. We’ve been here since last Friday!

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  12. In this instance, I have little doubt that Cornelia would beat Achilla in the ring. She could just push him into that tomb and take over the aria.

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  13. And now for some V’adoro, pupille. – What is that in the pit? Again a harp with an older string set? Amazing effect.

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    1. yes, but as far as orgy stagings go, not bad – always so hard in those to keep the flow and make sure the audience (and singers) do not wince. that was one of the main hurdles of the Aix Alcina, I think.

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    1. one classic scene of her and Gabrielle sitting in a bathtub giving each other back massages, at some point containing the phrase (I paraphrase) “wait, is that the soap?”

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  14. though I am oddly here for mezzo Tolomeo hitting on Cornelia (though he, too, should line up at the end of the queue)

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  15. On a more serious note, I am stupefied with how well Prina – apart from the singing and the energy – manages older masculinity, with poking fun at it, but never to the point of making her role entirely ridiculous.

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  16. “Here, let me hold that helmet for you while you sing that run, then go slay the enemies and please be back for dinner and the final duet, love you, honey, bye.”

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    1. she’s afraid Cesar will get killed, just after they decided to actually embark on something and she told him who she really is.

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  17. all the singing here is so relaxed – not cutting edge at any point, just very calmly being very good and very much at home in their ranges. Perhaps not the most grippingly dramatic “Cesare” imaginable, but a balm to listen to, really.

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  18. and now for mezzo Tolomeo telling Cornelia “here’s a white get-up/tissue for you. Btw, I give that to all the ladies I invite to my bed that evening.”
    (that must be a rather sizable bed, if you look at that line-up)

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      1. oh, Cleopatre got captured? so Telomeo is the one betraying Cesare, i get it now. and instead of chasing after Cesare, sleazy Tolomeo is bullying the “weakers” as expected…

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    1. Tolomeo taunting Cleopatra and telling her he’ll kill Cesar and push her into the dust. (then, Cleopatra gets to sing “Piangerò”)

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    1. you’re right, now that you mention it – I don’t think I remember such a fast take. (makes the breath work easier, though)

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      1. sounds great (since i don’t know the aria and not familiar with it, i can report it works just fine with the drama, and Prina is phrasing wonderfully here).

        But is Cesare crying about the dying of his women and soldiers or more “oh my pain, my suffering” ?

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  19. The irony has really dimmed down by now, but at least the warrior carrying Cesar’s train is offering a but of that.

    okay, and Cleopatra dipping Cesare. *LOL*

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    1. yes – everyone is given sensuality, independent of shape (and some shapes (Cesare!) are even purposefully distorted). Very feel-good!

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      1. That ties back nicely to our more serious discussion on the other post on beauty standards and how particularly women are judged by and raised into certain standards. And to how our criteria seem to be somewhat different (not sure whether it is in part because most of us identify as female, or as queer female?).

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        1. It is an interesting discussion and I have wondered since yesterday about how I am much more „tolerant“ about clear masculine features on other women then on myself, in the pure sense of what I perceive as aesthetic, regardless of the external feedback (which nevertheless probably also plays an indirect role in the sense that our own aesthetics are also formed by society).

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          1. Oh, that is interesting. Sure, non of us are free of society’s constant influences, also in creating anti-stances… But I think to a fair degree, you can be conscious of the machinations and counteract them.

            Your point brings me to another thing which I think is also noteworthy in looking at singers who excel in role portrayals regardless of the role’s gender: the gender dichotomy notion that a plus of femininity automatically means a minus of masculinity, and vice versa. That’s a design to keep gender opposition in place, and I find it – also in self-perception – to be so very untrue. You can embody both supposedly “masculine” and “feminine” traits, also at the same time and it won’t – I find – make you “more” or “less” of whatever gender you perceive yourself to be. And this defying of limitations is something that resonates with me.

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          2. True, and actually your last paragraph really brings Prina and her self-presentation in concerts, interviews etc. back to my mind, because she makes the impression of being totally relaxed in incorporating both sides, not caring much about any kind of traditional behaviour or styling features in both directions, one more thing to admire about her.
            Oh, and to correct my previous statement, „being tolerant“ was really not the right expression when it comes to my perception of masculine features in others (least of all in relation to contraltos, but you may have noticed that already).

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          3. well, only now that you mention it.😉
            (and I certainly cannot point fingers there. I recently reread my May post on MP’s “Lungi da te”. Dear God, how embarrassingly smitten was/am I with that interpretation? – On a side note, that is also one of the points (I mentioned this to dehggi a few days ago on the Acre post) why this is an overall personal and not a stylish ‘music critique’ blog: I don’t want to drape fancy words over something I like and pretend that I only like it for lofty reasons. I simply want to be able to say ‘Hey, I feel drawn to this’, and then go on and on trying to figure out why I like a particular performance, or the work of a specific performer. I try to be honest in that regard, to the point of looking stupidly smitten at times. But I think that’s fine, and that approach is very welcome here. My only big pet peeve – as I always say – is to keep it to the interpretation/work output and not start crossing boundaries when it comes to performers’ personal lives. But the Eye Bags crowd seems to be on the same page there (just as any crowd of grown-ups should be))

            But back to Prina! She is a a very welcome bout of fresh air in an overall far more conservative scene (and I would always add: particularly for an Italian). With all the appearances I have seen from her (many of them in concert, which is also public presentation), she seems to have a completely unfazed and fearless way of throwing herself into whatever character or music she is working on. And that makes for very compelling role portrayals (kind of opposite to the “but do I look good in this?” approach)

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          4. somebody mentions MP? (i currently back to listening to Semiramide.. i swear i wanted to listen to Rossini and A.Hallenberg😉 )

            yes, on Prina. Agathe, i’m sure you’ve also read the raving reviews from London just this past spring from Dehggi and several commenters on her blog post re. Prina’s recital at Wigmore Hall?

            A bit off topic, but i’ve been thinking about this staging, i really love it! I’m glad we went through it, because on first look it would not allow you to see its depth and how talented the singers are in acting and building characters. And i’m now a fan of Prina. I’ve been, but this is sort of a deeper look into how she portrays the character and show many human facets (not all macho 1D such as a Polinesso might be be..). I’d really love to see her Ottone in Poppea..

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          5. Just heading over to dehggi’s site, thanks for pointing that out, and of course I’m delighted you are tuning into a fan. Prina’s Polinesso is really mean and she acts that vocally as well, which is good for character interpretation, but I think it’s really worth listening to her other interpretations, especially the concert ones, where interpretations are very multilayered and sensitive.
            Btw. Rinaldo is also not macho, one of the reasons I think that Carsen staging is more then just a funny evening (but I may not be objective, which brings me back to your previous comment, Anik, absolutely yes to subjective opinions on singers!)

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      1. or Alessanrini called up his cast and said “Hey, how about spring in France this year?” And everyone said yes.

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          1. Prina, at least when i checked quite a while ago.. talking freely about her moustache, among other things
            (i haven’t investigated fully Iervolino’s site yet..)

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  20. I’m signing off – tired from the swimming today (and I guess so is Agathe?) Good night, you two! Perhaps another festival night next week?

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