This is a youthfully angry, sharp and to the point aria, in which little Sesto fumes at the mouth against Tolomeo (he doesn’t deserve to breathe (the air)). Whilst re-reading a post of mine (I do that too 😉 ), I had a sudden need to re-listen. A few versions later I was bathed in the multitude of colours it allows.
Let’s start with Stutzmann, because I love her handeling of dynamics both in conducting and in singing. I feel this is a wonderful introduction to this aria, so typical of Handel’s writing of arias of fury (it’s not quite vengeance here; see Svegliatevi nel cuore for that). Also check out her moves at around 0:12:
(One of the iconic little Sesti of our time) Semmingsen with her bright(eyed) mezzo comes next for strong contrast. I’m not so sure about Mortensen’s conducting here; I feel the details are a bit muddled, though in the interest of characterisation – this is a very young Sesto – that might not be a bad idea:
Also a mezzo, but much darker, is Bonitatibus; always a strong Handelian (especially in troubled youth roles), it’s interesting to compare a dark mezzo voice with a true contralto:
And here we have another Jacobs take – a very speedy one – with Ernman at the forefront, unexpectedly catching my ear. This Sesto is a bit older or wilder than usual; if I were Tolomeo I’d keep my hand on the dagger:
Italians aren’t afraid of lingering at the opera until after midnight. This Rai Radio 3 livestreaming from Teatro Regio in Torino finished at around 00:15am local time. The show had its own personality. How much you like this personality is another thing. I think Maestro went rather slowly and the ornaments he wrote for his singers weren’t the most interesting. Yet I conceed I may still be under the influence of the Glyndebourne production. I recently attempted to listen to a Giulio Cesare production from the ’60s and I had a lot of trouble getting into it, as it sounded very alien. I did expect it to and I was still resistant.
Now it’s true that ‘Cesare isn’t my favourite Handel opera. I’m not sure why, there are plenty of great individual arias. It might be because aside from Cesare himself, Cleopatra and, to a lesser extent, Tolomeo, the other characters are a bit boring (for me). And even these three aren’t all that interesting. I think this is the kind of opera one should see rather than just listen to. It still was by and large entertaining, with the singers sounding uniformly good.