In Baroque opera the dramatic figure of Gaius Julius Caesar received a considerable amount of attention from librettists and composers alike, and not just from G.F. Handel working with Nicola Francesco Haym. With Giulio Cesare, a Baroque hero, Raffaele Pe creates a full recital devoted to the Ancient Roman warrior and Dictator of the Republic, drawn from operas spanning the length of the eighteenth century. With refined musicality and artistry the countertenor approaches roles demonstrating contrasting personality traits of the Caesar who was capable not only of heroic acts but also of compassion, of amorous exhilaration, of physical and emotional fragility.
The sweep of the eighteenth century encompassed by these compositions also embraced the onstage heyday of the castratos: including Felice Salimbeni, Senesino, Cusanino, Sciroletto and Gasparo Pacchiarotti – demanding from Raffaele Pe great agility in covering both contralto and soprano castrato tessituras. Alongside excerpts from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto there are arias from works which Pe has been working onto provide modern performing scores together with scholar Valentina Anzani (who provides a historic survey of Caesar in Baroque opera in the accompanying essay), such as by Carlo Francesco Pollarolo, Niccolò Piccinni, Geminano Giacomelli and Francesco Bianchi.
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Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Va tacito e nascosto
Bianchi, G F: La morte di Cesare - Saprò d'ogn'alma audace
Giacomelli: Cesare in Egitto - Il cor che sdegnato
Piccinni: Cesare in Egitto - Spargi omai di dolce oblio
Pollarolo: Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Sdegnoso turbine
Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Son nata a lagrimar
Piccinni: Cesare in Egitto - Tergi le belle lagrime
Piccinni: Cesare in Egitto - Bella tel dica amore
Pollarolo: Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Non temer!
Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Al lampo dell'armi
Bianchi, G F: La morte di Cesare - Rasserena i mesti rai