I have never been a Handelian, nor one particularly drawn to Handel's operas. When I was in Toronto for the Opera America national conference in 2002, the company was presenting Giulio Cesare in Egitto. I was interested both in attending the opera again and hearing Ewa Podles (who was scheduled to make her debut in Seattle with Adalgisa) in the title role. I found the production really beautiful and Ms. Podles amazing. I can honestly say that the whole afternoon passed like a flash. It was a very theatrical as well as an intensely musically enriching experience.
I talked to Ms. Podles afterwards about coming here in the part. Later, after she agreed to sing Erda and the First Norn in our 2005 Ring, I again told her that I wanted to give Giulio Cesare here. She accepted.
I thought that this was a Handel opera that had a wide appeal both because of its really wonderful music and its very interesting plot. Many of the Handel operas lack a particularly clear or meaningful plot. Such is not the case with Giulio Cesare. It also offers in the roles of Cleopatra, Sesto, Cornelia and Tolomeo four other rewarding and demanding parts. When Ms. Podles accepted my offer, I knew exactly whom I wanted. Alexandra Deshorties (Cleopatra), Kristine Jepson (Sesto) , Helene Schneiderman (Cornelia), and Brian Asawa (Tolomeo) are all acclaimed Handelians, whom I have heard in other Handel operas. All were available, and all agreed to come. When I managed to attract Gary Wedow, an acclaimed Handelian as conductor, and Robin Guarino, who has directed a good bit of Handel, the opera was set.