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Stetson Opera Theatre and the Chamber Orchestra at the Stetson University School of Music begin their 2019-20 season with George Frideric Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto. The sexy and tragic baroque opera tells the musical story of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra’s love affair and the war between Rome and Egypt in 48 B.C.

The production is directed by Russell Franks, who is the director of Stetson Opera Theatre, and conducted by Anthony Hose.

Giulio Cesare in Egitto hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at the historic Athens Theatre, 124 N. Florida Ave. in Downtown DeLand. It will be sung in Italian with English supertitles projected on the proscenium.

The three-act opera portrays Caesar’s campaign in Alexandria, where he meets Cleopatra for the first time and falls head over heels for the Egyptian goddess. The plot thickens when Cleopatra’s brother Tolomeo wages war against Caesar to keep her from becoming the queen of the Nile.

Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, which made its debut Feb. 20, 1724, at the King’s Theatre in London, has become one of his most performed operatic works.

“The Baroque era was rich in operatic repertoire, and many Italian, German and French composers were prolific in this genre, which spanned 150 years,” said Franks. “Handel, a German composer, rose to fame after he moved to London. Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto is considered one of his most successful operas because of the music, story (libretto) and dramaturgy.”

The double-casted production features Alesandra Collins (Giulio Cesare); Adam Benton (Giulio Cesare’s understudy); Max Wolf (Curio); Vanessa Moya (Cornelia); Annabrett Ruggiero (Cornelia’s understudy); Colby Harter (Sesto); Melissa Feurich (Cleopatra); Lauren Prestifilippo (Cleopatra); Kat Kirby (Cleopatra’s understudy); Matthew Harris (Achilla); Adam Benton (Achilla); Allison Fahey (Tolomeo); Tony Capizzi (Nireno); and Bradley Monroe (Nireno).

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for area students, and are free for Stetson faculty and students with ID. Tickets may be purchased at the door or at www.stetson.edu/music-tickets.

Stetson Opera Theatre students will be performing in authentic costumes, which represent the time period and were created by Franks, while collaborating with Stetson’s Chamber Orchestra.

“The students receive invaluable experience when learning how to perform with a live orchestra,” said Franks. “Most, if not all, opera companies perform with an orchestra, which prepares students for the professional arena. The Chamber Orchestra is another cast member that lends expressive qualities to the drama and helps set the mood for each scene.”

Florida opera fans and first-timers are in for a real treat.

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