But the confrontation brings together Caesar and Ptolemy's sister, the famous beauty Cleopatra, and so the Battle for the Kingdom of the Nile becomes also a battle of the heart. Cleopatra's Needle (Thu 5 Oct, 7.30PM and Sat 7 Oct, 8PM) picks up the story. Audiences are invited to watch the two parts on consecutive nights, or back to back, on the Saturday of the Hackney residency.
In Handel's time, the role of Giulio Cesare would have been sung by a male castrato; today such roles are usually sung by the modern counter-tenor, with a comparable range and vocal drama, or sometimes a mezzo-soprano. The South African-born counter-tenor Christopher Ainslie sings Cesare in ETO's productions, with the brilliant young soprano Soraya Mafi as Cleopatra. Mafi caused a stir earlier this year as Mabel in English National Opera's The Pirates of Penzance.
Baroque specialists The Old Street Band, conducted by Jonathan Peter Kenny, plays the dynamic score, enlisting the historic instruments that give Handel scores their distinctive edge. The director is James Conway, with designs by Cordelia Chisholm.
In the atmospheric, historic Hackney Empire, this two-parter promises to be a visual treat as well as a musical extravaganza.
Giulio Cesare is sung in Italian with English surtitles.
English Touring Opera's residency at Hackney also includes performances of Rameau's Dardanus. Claim a 20 per cent discount when two operas are booked at once, and 25 per cent when three operas are booked together.
|What||Handel's Giulio Cesare, Hackney Empire|
|Where||Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Hackney Central (overground)|
04 Oct 17 – 07 Oct 17, In two parts, two performances each; times vary
|Price||£10 - £35|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|