Handel’s tale of intrigue and impropriety in ancient Rome receives its first Met performances, with star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as the controlling, power-hungry Agrippina and Harry Bicket conducting. Sir David McVicar’s production ingeniously reframes the action of this black comedy about the abuse of power to “the present,” where it should loudly resonate. The all-star cast features mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey as Agrippina’s son and future emperor Nerone, soprano Brenda Rae as the seductive Poppea, countertenor Iestyn Davies as the ambitious officer Ottone, and bass Matthew Rose as the weary emperor Claudius.
World Premiere, Venice, 1709. This early Italian opera of Handel was a success that secured the composer’s international reputation and played a large role in paving the way for his lucrative and high-profile subsequent career in London. While he continued to develop artistically for the next 50 years, his entire life’s genius is perfectly evident in this first great operatic accomplishment. Even today, the issues at stake in Agrippina — the power plays, sexual politics, and cults of personality played out against a fickle public — continue to resonate.
USA 2020, 242 min incl 1 intermission, rated PG (drug use & sexual references)
Conducted by Harry Bicket
Production: David McVicar
Starring Joyce DiDonato, Kate Lindsey, Brenda Rae, Iestyn Davies & Matthew Rose