George Frideric Handel
A dazzling cast comes together for one of Handel’s earliest Italian triumphs.
Joyce DiDonato Agrippina
Kathryn Lewek Poppea
Gianluca Buratto Claudio
Marie-Nicole Lemieux Ottone / Giunone
Franco Fagioli Nerone
Andrea Mastroni Pallante
Carlo Vistoli Narciso
Biagio Pizzuti Lesbo
Maxim Emelyanychev direction and harpsichord
Il Pomo d’Oro
Sung in Italian with French and English subtitles
Agrippina was composed by Handel in 1710 on his first trip to Italy for the Venice carnival celebrations. Comedy and tragedy sit happily side by side against a backdrop of political intrigue featuring debauchery, adultery, murder and incest. This conforms to the subtle but effective cocktail served up by the librettists of the era. But Handel – and his librettist Cardinal Grimani in particular – add a fondness for plotting and guile which informs the entire texture of the opera. Numerous allusions to contemporary diplomacy, beautiful arias and subtle plotting (the work paints first and foremost a portrait of two women, Agrippina and Poppea) helped to make the work an instant success. Anna Caterina Antonacci’s Agrippina made a powerful impression in this version by David McVicar. It is now Joyce DiDonato’s turn to take on the role of this manipulative woman par excellence with her familiar relish and skill.
Production Théâtre des Champs-Elysées