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Critical Review: Giulio Cesare Opera

At the time of its debut in 1724, it was notable for being based on a factual story (rather than the more frequent legendary basis) (compared to commonly used mythology plot). First opera at the Royal Academy of Music – Baroque Era (1719). It is played by oboes, bassoon, harpsichord, and a small string group. This opera, nicknamed “weird” because of its peculiar sounds not found in other Romantic period operas, is concentrated on the voice.

Giulio Cesare contains 27 arias and three duets. The work incorporates Baroque theater, British imperialism, and Bollywood-style dance. Handel’s da capo aria technique enabled vocalists to express themselves freely over melodies, allowing them to wow the audience (Handel 1724 Giulio Cesare HWV 17 Emmanuelle Haïm, 2018). A-Z of renowned artists and actresses of the era Despite its antiquity, the opera is still regarded as one of the greatest works of art ever created due to its “magnificence.”

Act 1

In the opening episode, Cesare is greeted by the royal court in Alexandria, Egypt’s capital. In the second scene, Cornelia and Sesto, Pompeo’s wife and son, entreat Cesare to negotiate a peace settlement. Tolomeo, Egypt’s monarch, presents Cesare with a plate containing Pompeo’s severed head, courtesy to Egypt’s army leader, Achilla. Cornelia feels dizzy. Cesare, who hates Pompeo, is decapitated, and his ashes are buried in a vault. Achillea delivers his penance to King Tolomeo and promises a future visit. Scene 4 brings Cornelia back to life. Cesare’s commander, Curio, proposes marriage for vengeance on Pompeo’s death. Sesto expects retaliation.

Cleopatra, Tolomeo’s sister, tells her servant Nireno in her bedroom that she plans to steal her brother’s position as king of Egypt. Nireno summarizes the situation from Pompeo’s point of view. Cleopatra greets Cesare more formally, removing Tolomeo as emperor. She mocks her brother, claiming that he could still find love despite his imminent death. Achillea notifies Tolomeo about Pompeo’s fury and Cesare’s readiness to express it to him through Achilla’s messenger service. Achillea threatens Cesare with death until Tolomeo gives him Cornelia’s hand (Handel 1724 Giulio Cesare HWV 17 Emmanuelle Haïm, 2018). In Scene 7, Cesare pays homage to the urn containing Pompeo’s ashes, a wedding gift from his father. Curio welcomes Lidia, a servant of Cleopatra who reveals herself to be Cleopatra in disguise. Cesare falls for “Lidia” and promises her he will help her kill Egypt’s ruler. Curio, on the other hand, proposes marriage if Cornelia refuses him. Soon after Cesare and Curio leave, “Lidia” is told by Nireno that her actions have won Cesare’s love. She enjoys outwitting her brother Tolomeo.

In the ninth scene, Cornelia visits Pompeo’s urn and respects her. Despite her threats of revenge, Sesto insists he is completely to blame. When “Lidia” offers aid, they debate how to approach Cesare. In the ninth scene, Cesare visits Tolomeo, ready to commit. In Scene 10, Tolomeo greets Cornelia and Sesto at their home. Soon after, he falls head over heels in love with Cornelia. When she accuses him of killing her husband and arrests them both, Achilla is sure he can have Cornelia, but he later sighs at the prospect. Achillea proposes to Cornelia, but she declines. Despite Cornelia’s objections, he confines Sesto but not her.

Act 2

Cleopatra is in a pleasure garden when she orders Nireno to bring Cesare. Nireno tells Cesare to wait for “Lidia.” Cleopatra appears as Virtue and then departs. Nireno informs Cesare that “Lidia” will meet him at her home and take him to Cleopatra’s court. Cornelia sings about her dilemma in Scene 3. After Achilla promises to help her marriage, she flees. Scene 4: Tolomeo’s arrival. Achillea claims he tried to date Cornelia but was rejected for reasons he doesn’t understand. Tolomeo gloats, then warns Achilla that if he kills Caesar, Cornelia will be his. Cornelia kills herself rather than marries Achilla. Fortunately, Sesto (who eluded arrest) and Nireno seem eager to lend a hand. Sesto admits to wanting vengeance on people who have hurt him. Cornelia is surprised to learn that Tolomeo has taken her as a concubine. He claims this will enable Sesto to disguise himself and kill Tolomeo nearby. As previously indicated, Sesto seeks retribution on the public (Sosa, 2019). Act 7, Scene 7: “Lidia” is resting in the pleasure garden when she overhears Cesare is contemplating marrying her. Cesare is taken aback as she opens her eyes to accept. His religious views prevent him from marrying a servant girl. In this case, “Lidia” tells the viewers that she will sleep again.

Curio hurries into the palace, calling out to Cesare that Achilla’s assassins have broken in and his life is in peril. When Cesare says that he will be leaving Egypt, “Lidia” rushes up, surprising Cesare by exposing herself to be Cleopatra. Cesare prepares for battle as his foes draw in. Cleopatra tells Tolomeo that she will be Cesare’s ally in the next conflict. In Scene 9, Tolomeo chooses Cornelia among his concubines. Sesto is preparing to attack the enemy. In Scene 10, Achilla flees with Sesto’s sword. His visit informs Tolomeo that Cesare and Curio have fled to the sea for protection. Cesare may have died now. Achillea has found her prize in Cornelia. When the monarch rejects Achilla’s appeal, he explodes.

Act 3

Achillea says he would no longer serve Cleopatra but rather the Egyptian Queen in the first scene. In the second scenario, Tolomeo captures Cleopatra after defeating Cesare’s men. Cleopatra laments her plight as she is bound. In Scene 4, Cesare safely lands on a sandbank. He finds Sesto, Nireno, and Achilla, who is very sick. Achilla, who hasn’t recognized the others, tells Cornelia that he killed Pompeo to marry her off to his younger brother, Achilles. He tells them they must go because an army has gathered nearby to pursue Tolomeo. Sesto orders the burial of Achilla as soon as he dies.

In Scene 5, Cesare saves Cleopatra and explains how he did it. Sesto plans retribution against Cesare, who is still alive, and Achilla, who has died. In the seventh scene, Cesare saves Cleopatra from death. Act 8, Scene 8: Tolomeo tries again to seduce Cornelia. Defendant pulls a knife from her belt. In the eighth scene, Sesto murders Tolomeo and confesses. Sesto kills Tolomeo in the ensuing battle. On Tolomeo’s throne and scepter in Scene 10, Cornelia and Sesto offer it to Ceasar (Sosa, 2019). The Egyptian monarchy is a thank you for her hand in marriage. “Then there’ll be a party,” she says. But only if Cesare and Rome can make her choice.


Handel 1724 Giulio Cesare HWV 17 Emmanuelle Haïm. (2018, April 2). [Video]. YouTube.

Sosa, A. (2019, October 5). Giulio Cesare. George Frideric Händel (1685 – 1759) [Video]. YouTube.


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