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Home » Composers » German Composers » GF Handel » Handel Operas » Agrippina

Agrippina

By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)

Recordings

Click Here for 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 Meisser, baritone.
Handel. Agrippina. (HWV 6, Venice 1709-10). Harmonia Mundi HMC 902088/90 (3 CDs, September 2011. (Video 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. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. 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: US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
DVDs: US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. 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. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. 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 Miles. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Reissued on Philips "The Originals" 4758285 (March 2007). US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

The libretto to Agrippina may be the finest set by Handel. Reinhard Strohm wrote:

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).

Related Operas

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) as Seneca.

Original Cast

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.

References

Dean & Knapp. Handel's Operas, 1704-1726. (Oxford University Press 1995 (1987)).
Gesine Manuwald. Nero in Opera: Librettos as Transformations of Ancient Sources. Details. 410 pages. Walter De Gruyter GmbH (2013). Read excerpts in Google. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP

Curiosities

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.

Links

Le magazine de l'opera-baroque page on Agrippina


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