It is with gratitude, humility, and a child-like euphoria that I reflect on my debut in Julius Caesar at ENO; the experience of this opportunity in London is truly surreal! The ensemble of individuals creating this production make up a true cooperative of artists, always engaging in collaboration. Every step along the way has been colored by the excited exploration of possibility. As a young artist, my past experience has been limited to more purist productions; the brilliance of the music always delighted and moved me, but ENO’s team of innovators have all contributed to a unique, modern, and dynamic production, uniting elements of expression, design, and movement that I never before imagined. The result of this inclusive collaboration is a boundlessly energetic piece, one that breathes new life into the timeless beauty of Handel’s music. Modern interpretations of art invite interpretation, and the discussion inherent in processing reactions and evaluations will, in my mind, always be a positive engagement, as it inspires, challenges, and nurtures the creative spirit. The production has yielded a ferment of critical interpretations from the community, as dynamic and varied as the production itself. How fortunate I am to be a part of it! It is an honor to share my experience of working with this talented ensemble.
Christian Curnyn has an uncompromised devotion to the music. His high spirited direction was a joy to work with these last few months. Maestro Curnyn is stylistic and loyal to tradition though open to the modern styles enacted onstage.
From the onset, Michael Keegan-Dolan has energized the creative space with boundless enthusiasm and a vision that makes room for the warm inclusion of all others. His worldview that movement is at the heart of humanity is reflected in choreography that simply put, gives body to the actors’ voices. Andrew Lieberman has created a set that allows for a variety of moods and is acoustically fantastic. Doey Lüthi’s costume design is both edgy and classy.
The Fabulous Beast company members use their bodies as powerful instruments, instruments which are additions to the grand collective of the orchestra and on-stage artists. They present external manifestations of the characters’ visceral emotion, highlighting the core of human experience. Their masterful execution of Keegan-Dolan’s choreography yields beautiful living, breathing tableaus. The juxtaposition of the modern, the tribal, and the baroque makes for dynamic, percussive movement that adds both foundation and ornamentation to the production.
Tim Mead is a skillful and seemingly effortless performer. His counter-tenor brilliance is matched by his enterprising acting style, and the result is a sinister fool who you can’t wait to see on stage again. Despite his sordid existence, you simply delight in the well-balanced presentation of the dark and comical elements of his character. A cardigan-sporting, croquet-playing lightweight with perfectly combed tresses is also an alarmingly cruel rogue in power. Bravo, Ptolemy.
Anna Christy has a purely and truly heavenly instrument that she manipulates masterfully in the dynamic character of Cleopatra. Her instrument gives voice to the multiple identities she embodies. A rebelliously vindictive adolescent, an irresistible femme fatale, a hopeless damsel in distress, a shameless opportunist, and a fallen, defeated woman, and that is a modest, unfinished list. The result of her nuanced acting is an undeniably authentic portrait of an enigmatic historical icon, one who has mystified for ages. Anna is stunning in this role. Her talent is met by a cheerful professionalism and genuine warmth. Anna warmly welcomed me into the Julius Caesar community, always attuned to the comfort of others both on and off stage.
Lawrence Zazzo is a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, whose energy is always reflected in his performance. It is clear that he is always giving two hundred percent, and this ambition circulates, always motivating those around him to contribute their very best. His flawless counter-tenor is truly something to experience! Larry is truly a world-class Ceasar.
Upon Patricia Bardon’s first entrance, the audience knows that they are in the presence of a true pro. She knows this role in and out, and this was evident from the first day of rehearsal. Her Cornelia is direct and strong. Pat is a decisive actor, and she’s always willing to try something from new direction despite her seasoned experience. Pat’s gorgeous alto is the perfect vessel for the guttural pathos of this role.
Daniela Mack is easy to work with, always on her game, and full of kind energy. Daniela’s well- tuned gift for pathos and inner turmoil comes out beautifully each time she steps foot on stage. Her Sesto makes an exciting transition from frightened child to vengeful assassin. Daniela’s beautiful, clear timbre is a perfect match for Pat, and their duet at the close of Act I is an undeniable highlight of the show. Her arias are powerfully sung pieces of art, joined wonderfully by the energetic dancers.
James Laing is fabulous in his unfortunately cut down role of Nireno. He is always engaged in the work of others, and is a true collaborator. Jamie is full of great ideas, and was a big help to me in this production. His professionalism and work ethic are evident; he also covered the role of Caesar and sang a concert in between performances. It was a real treat working with and getting to know such a warm artist.
George Humphreys’ Curio is an imposing character to say the least. George is gifted with a strong stage presence. Always dedicated and consistent, George presents a strong, unyielding Curio that makes a real impact on the production.
There are six performances left of the production at ENO: Oct 16, 19, 24, 26, 31 & Nov 2 at 7pm. You can book tickets here.