English Touring Opera's Autumn season features Handel's Giulio Cesare and Rameau's Dardanus
Every now and then English Touring Opera celebrates all things Baroque; and over the years they have featured Handel, frequently with the special assistance of their period orchestra partner, the Old Street Band, conducted by Jonathan Peter Kenny.
Since 2009 they have mounted Agrippina, Xerxes, Flavio, Teseo, Tolomeo, Alcina and Ariodante. That’s quite a roster. This Autumn they are going for the blockbuster Giulio Cesare, Handel’s most celebrated opera. It’s a piece about passion and revenge loosely based on historic events and is of epic proportions so they are intriguingly breaking it down into two parts. In Part I: The Death of Pompey the million dollar question is whether, having defeated his rival Pompey, Caesar can survive the machinations of King of Egypt Ptolemy and his sister Cleopatra. In Part II: Cleopatra’s Needle The Battle for the Kingdom of the Nile reaches a crisis as Pompey’s family is enslaved, Caesar is presumed dead and Cleopatra is made captive by her brother.
To complete the season the company is presenting the first UK performance of the 1744 version of Rameau’s Dardanus, loosely based on Greek myth and one of his finest works. Jupiter’s son Dardanus is in love with Iphise, the daughter of his enemy Teucer – a love that, though reciprocated, is forbidden. So begins a ravishing tale of love in war, with monsters and magic, and containing some of the composer’s finest music. Douglas Rintoul directs and the conductor is Jonathan Williams.
Both works will be sung in the original language with English surtitles.
Last year ETO’s orchestra and soloists worked with local choirs and amateur singers to present Bach’s St John Passion and this year, under the direction of Jonathan Peter Kenny they will continue Bach’s works with his Mass in B minor - one of the great statements of faith in music. As the company eloquently puts it – a mighty response to life’s terrible silences.
The English Touring Opera Autumn season opens at the Hackney Empire, London on October 4 with Giulio Cesare Part I: The Death of Pompey and Part II: Cleopatra’s Needle on October 5 followed by a complete performance on October 7. It continues with Rameau’s Dardanus on October 6 before touring the country. The first performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor takes place at Saffron Hall, Saffron Waldon on October 8 and continues at a number of venues.