Julius Caesar reset in the 1930s.
Julius Caesar reset in the 1930s.
Photo by Felix Sanchez

Julius Caesar, the Opera, Moves to the 1930s and the George R. Brown

Anyone looking for togas is going to be disappointed here.

One of the most frequently performed baroque operas, Julius Caesar by Handel, has been reset as a movie being shot in the 1930s with costumes to match in Houston Grand Opera’s second offering of the 2017-18 season. 

Mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe is back singing the Cornelia role, which she last performed here in 2002. All will be carried out in the newly crafted Resilience Hall at the George R. Brown while the Wortham Theater Center is still on the injured-reserve list.

“The idea is that the opera is taking place on a giant sound stage and we are the actors who are portraying these people,” says Blythe, who as Cornelia comes (unfortunately a bit too late) to plead for her husband, Pompeo’s, life.

Meanwhile Caesar (Anthony Roth Costanzo) and Cleopatra (Heidi Stober) are getting to know one another and the intrigue, revenge motifs and the love that follows are, of course, epic in nature.

"These characters are very larger than life but they're real people. They existed," Blythe says, adding, "It’s packed with really beautiful music.It’s very evocative and very emotional."

This isn’t Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, so don’t expect an et-tu-brute moment. Think more of triumphal marches cast as the triumph of good over evil. Handel’s music is high-pitched and memorable and there’s a lot of it in this 3-1/2 hour production with one intermission.

Performances are scheduled for October 27 through November 10 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturday and Wednesday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Resilience Hall, George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas. Sung in Italian with English projections. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $18-$325.

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