I have been to the opera several times, but the thought of going to see this one was not high on my list of priorities. But she prevailed and with the agreement that we could leave early because of my having to work the next day, we went.
This opera was written by Handel, and in the era that this opera was written in they used many castrati for the leading roles. Since the number of men who can actually sing in the castrati range is very limited, the practice now is to use women, sopranos in particuliar, to play those roles.
The role of Tolomeo (Cleopatra's brother) was played by a countertenor. When he first sang, i thought he was female. But when there was a duet between him and Cleopatra, there was a tone in his voice that underlined the fact that he was male, but had the most marvelous upper range.
The thing that gave me the giggles, unfortunately, was the contralto that played Julius Caesar. As true contraltos usually are, she was of large stature. The arias that she had to sing consisted of a large number of trills and runs. While she sang those, her bosom heaved in time with the notes in them, pausing only when she took a breath, when her shoulders tried to meet her ears. She was also very stiff in her movements, like she was trying to be masculine in her movements, but failed miserably, looking only stiff. Also, her voice was not one that made me sit up and take notice.
We left after the second act, at 10:55 p.m. figuring that the third act would sound quite similar to the first two acts, sung in Italian with super titles above the stage so you knew what was happening on the stage.
My biggest complaint was that the opera had far too much soprano and counter tenor, and not *nearly* enough bass and baritone. We did really enjoy people watching there, since there were many different styles of dress present.
Fortunately, this experience didn't put my friend off of opera, but made her look forward to the next one.