Iford Arts, Wiltshire
Sung in English
The setting is Rome around 43 AD – or maybe any seat of despotic power – where the prizes are huge and ripe for the picking. Agrippina is the mother of Nero. She believes that her laissez-faire husband, the Emperor Claudius, can be induced to nominate Nero, his young stepson as his successor on the imperial throne. She will stop at nothing, including murder, to safeguard her son’s future reign. We lift the lid on life inside the Palace and take a sardonic look at Agrippina’s masterly manoeuvres as she works out how to do it. One of the best libretti Handel ever set, this is a wonderful comedy based on historical events.
With scant respect for authority, Agrippina deftly satirises the vanities and greed of those who lust for dominance; revels in the power struggle between husband and wife; and in particular the machinations between Agrippina and her rival, the delicious sex kitten, Poppea. With an array of well-developed, famous and funny characters it descends into something approaching bedroom farce in the climactic scene when Poppea conceals her 3 would-be lovers separately around her bedroom. The infectious music is typical of Handel’s Italian period: endlessly inventive and full of melting melody in an easy relaxed style.