Julius Caesar
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07:30 PM
02:00 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
07:30 PM
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Sung in Italian with projected English translation


Appropriate for all ages

Running Time

3 hours and 30 minutes
1 intermission


Lights! Camera! Caesar!


Blood, sex, and political pawns—a Game of Thrones episode? No, it’s Handel’s Julius Caesar—and it’s all based on Caesar’s very real exploits in ancient Egypt.


The twist in this clever production by James Robinson is that the story of Caesar, Cleopatra, Ptolemy, and their allies and enemies is presented as a movie being filmed on a back lot in Hollywood, during its golden age in the late 1920s–early ’30s. Art deco sets and glitzy costumes bring the story of power and passion to life. 

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Composer: Handel

Cast and Creative Team

Julius Caesar Anthony Roth Costanzo
Cleopatra Heidi Stober
Cornelia Stephanie Blythe
Sextus Megan Mikailovna Samarin
Ptolemy David Daniels
Achillas Federico De Michelis
Conductor Patrick Summers
Margaret Alkek Williams Chair
Director James Robinson
Associate Director Michael Shell
Set Designer  Christine Jones
Costume Designer James Schuette
Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind

Houston Grand Opera Orchestra

During the late 1920s–early ’30s, the golden era of the Hollywood musical, a movie with an exotic Egyptian setting is being filmed on a Hollywood back lot.

In the film, Julius Caesar has defeated his rival Pompey in Greece and pursues him to Egypt. There, Caesar finds refuge with Ptolemy XIII, who reigns over the Nile valley with his sister Cleopatra. Threatened by the presence of such a powerful Roman in Egypt, Ptolemy attempts to curry Caesar’s favor: he orders Pompey’s death and sends his severed head to Caesar as a gift. The gift backfires spectacularly: Caesar is infuriated by the barbaric murder and vows to punish Ptolemy. The king’s adviser, Achillas, offers to kill Caesar in exchange for the hand of Pompey’s widow, Cornelia. Stung by Caesar’s rejection of his “gift,” Ptolemy agrees.

Cleopatra makes use of the animosity between Caesar and Ptolemy in an effort to make herself the sole ruler of Egypt. She decides to seduce Caesar, appearing before him surrounded by her attendants in an elaborately staged scene. Just as Caesar is about to follow her into her quarters, he learns of Achillas’s plot against him and rushes off to confront the conspirators. When Cleopatra receives news that Caesar has been killed, she takes control of the Roman armies and is captured by the Egyptians. But Caesar has survived and now rushes to save Cleopatra.

Caesar and Cleopatra emerge victorious, and the triumphant couple sets sail down the Nile as everyone celebrates the return of peace.


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