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By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)
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comparisons of the McGegan and Gardiner recordings.
|Handel. Agrippina. (HWV 6, Venice
1709-10). Naïve. Forthcoming. Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco. Joyce
DiDonato, Maite Beaumont, Karina Gauvin, Pallante: Johannes
Handel. Agrippina. (HWV 6,
Venice 1709-10). Harmonia Mundi HMC 902088/90 (3 CDs, September 2011.
from the ridiculous but costly modern production.)
René Jacobs, AKAMUS. Agrippina: Alexandrina
Pendatchanska, soprano; Nerone: Jennifer Rivera,
soprano; Poppea: Sunhae Im, soprano; Ottone: Bejun
Mehta, countertenor; Narcisso: Dominique Visse,
countertenor; Pallante: Neal Davies, baritone; Claudio:
Marco Fink, bass; Lesbo: Daniel Schmutzhard, baritone.
As usual, HUP reorchestration by Jacobs. McGegan's
recording, also on HM, is the best available.
Agrippina. (HWV 6, Venice 1709-10). Dynamic CDS431 (3
CDs, March 2004). Jean-Claude Malgoire. La Grand Écurie & La
Chambre du Roy. Agrippina: Véronique Gens, soprano; Nerone:
Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor; Poppea: Ingrid Perruche,
soprano; Claudio: Nigel Smith, baritone; Ottone: Thierry
Grégoire, countertenor; Pallante: Bernard Delétré, baritone;
Narciso: Fabrice Di Falco, countertenor; Lesbo: Alain Buet,
bass. I haven't heard the CDs, but I have the DVDs. The modern
production is ugly and repulsive, but it's considerably more
watchable than other hideous French stagings with their frenetic
circus acts in the foreground and background. Imagine what could
be done if historical stagers had access to a fraction of the
vast resources squandered on the freak shows that accompany baroque
opera musical performances. Much of the singing is
outstanding, with the notable exception of Smith, who stumbles
through one A section of "Io di Roma" before the rest of the
great aria is mercifully cut. There are additonal cuts,
including most of Narciso's second aria, and Malgoire's HUP reorchestration,
including non-historical guitar continuo. The live recorded
sound is reverberant and substandard. CDs:
Agrippina. (HWV 6, Venice 1709-10). Harmonia Mundi HMC
907063/65 (3 CDs, 1992). Nicholas McGegan, Capella Savaria.
Agrippina: Sally Bradshaw, soprano; Nerone: Wendy Hill, soprano;
Poppea: Lisa Saffer, soprano; Claudio: Nicholas Isherwood, bass;
Ottone: Drew Minter, countertenor; Pallante: Michael Dean, bass;
Narciso: Ralf Popken, countertenor; Lesbo: Béla Szilágyi, bass;
Giunone: Gloria Banditelli, contralto. Overall, I prefer
McGegan's recording to Gardiner's.
Agrippina. (HWV 6, Venice 1709-10). Philips 438 009-2 (3
CDs, 1997 (recorded 1991)). John Elliott Gardner, English
Baroque Soloists. Claudio: Alastair Miles, bass; Agrippina:
Della Jones, mezzo-soprano; Nerone: Derek Lee Ragin,
countertenor; Poppea: Donna Brown, soprano; Ottone: Michael
Chance, countertenor; Pallante: George Mosley, bass; Narciso:
Jonathan Peter Kenny, countertenor; Lesbo: Julian Clarkson,
bass; Giunone: Anne Sofie von Otter, contralto. Despite
substandard recorded sound and spotty casting, this is worth
having for the fine performances by Michael Chance and Alastair
on Philips "The Originals" 4758285 (March 2007).
The libretto to Agrippina may be the finest set by Handel. Reinhard
The librettist of Agrippina was Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani, who
was Imperial Ambassador to the Vatican before his appointment as Viceroy
of Naples on 1 July 1707. He was a sworn political opponent of the Pope,
Clement XI, and the libretto is an open attack, half satirical and half
realistic, on the Papal Court. He may well have had the Pope himself in
mind as the Emperor Claudius. . . . Grimani's text is possibly only a
reworking of an older libretto, either his own or another poet's.
R. Strohm, "Handel and his Italian opera texts", page 40. Essays
on Handel and the Italian Opera. (Oxford University Press 1985).
|Vivaldi et al. Nerone fatto Cesare. (RV
724, Venice 1715). Pasticcio arranged by Vivaldi with 12
new arias by Vivaldi. "Probably the opera referred to by
Uffenbach as Agrippina." Eric Cross, The Late Operas
of Antonio Vivaldi, vol. I: Appendix I n2. Music apparently
lost. The cast included Carli (Claudio in Handel's Agrippina)
Agrippina: Margherita Durastanti, soprano & Elena Croce, soprano; Nerone:
Valeriano Pellegrini, soprano castrato; Poppea: Diamante Maria Scarabelli,
soprano; Claudio: Antonio Francesco Carli, bass; Ottone: Francesca Vanini-Boschi,
contralto; Pallante: Giuseppe Maria Boschi, bass; Narciso: Giuliano Albertini,
alto castrato; Lesbo: Nicola Pasini, bass; Giunone: unknown.
Dean & Knapp. Handel's Operas, 1704-1726. (Oxford University Press
In the excellent
1990 version of Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, the
overture to Handel's Agrippina can be heard during a play within the play, when
Cyrano is staging an Agrippina.
Le magazine de l'opera-baroque page on Agrippina