George Frideric Handel
LIVE IN HD
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Handel’s tale of intrigue and impropriety in ancient Rome arrives in cinemas on February 29, 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. This live cinema transmission is part of the Met’s award-winning Live in HD series, bringing opera to more than 2,200 theaters in more than 70 countries worldwide.
Buy tickets for Agrippina live in the opera house here.
This production was originally created by the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie / De Munt Brussels and adapted by the Metropolitan Opera
Production a gift of Dunard Fund USA
Languages sung in Agrippina
Title languages displayed for Agrippina
Met Titles In
Timeline for the show, Agrippina
Estimated Run Time
3 hrs 35 mins
Acts I & II (pt. 1)
Acts II (pt. 2) & III
World Premiere: Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo, 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.
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) was born in Germany, trained extensively in the music capitals of Italy, and spent most of his brilliant career in London. His great choral and orchestral works have remained extraordinarily popular up to the present day, and his theatrical creations were instrumental in introducing Italian opera to the British public. Vincenzo Cardinal Grimani (1652 or 1655–1710) was a career diplomat who also supplied libretti for opera composers, the text for Agrippina being his most famous.
Sir David McVicar
SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER
George Frideric Handel
Agrippina was originally set in Rome, late in the reign of the Emperor Claudius (d. 54 C.E.), but Sir David McVicar’s staging updates the action to the current day: an era in which sly posturing and sometimes-questionable tactics continue to drive political discourse.
Handel’s inventive musical approach is the perfect vehicle to delve into the complex ideas of this drama: Like imperial corruption itself, the score can dazzle with elegant splendor even while exposing the devious machinations under the surface. Although there are more ensembles scattered throughout the score than Handel gave to his later operas, the basic unit of this opera is, like those others, the da capo aria. The musical miracle is in the diversity of expression that Handel achieves within this structure. As in all of the composer’s operas, supreme vocal virtuosity is expected and required to express the drama, nowhere more on display than in Agrippina’s climactic fury aria “Pensieri, voi mi tormentate.”