Handel: Agrippina

Handel: Agrippina

by Joyce DiDonato Joyce DiDonato


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Handel's "Agrippina" (1709) is a somewhat tawdry tale of the efforts of the title character to elevate her son, Nero, to the Roman throne, and it's widely accounted as Handel's first big operatic masterpiece. It is a kind of prequel to the material covered in Monteverdi's "L'incoronazione di Poppea." The work fits into neither the categories of Italian opera seria nor comic opera, though it borrows elements of both. From opera seria comes an athletic strand of vocal writing that runs through several roles and is ably handled by Joyce DiDonato as Agrippina and two of the hottest countertenors on the scene, Franco Fagioli as Nerone (Nero) and Jakub Jozef Orlinski as Ottone (Otho, another claimant to the throne who is the sole character to emerge with moral dignity intact). The latter role was originally performed by a female contralto, but Handel would have had no problem with inserting a male singer; several other roles were for castrati. Some of the arias were recycled from earlier compositions by Handel and others, but they were reworked, and most importantly, put together in lively and compelling ways, and that points to arguably the real star of the recording: conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, leading the historical-performance group Il Pomo d'Oro. Everything is precise (the group had performed the opera live in advance of this studio recording), and the performers get the youthful energy and innovative spirit of the music. Absolutely nothing is dull here, and anyone looking to try out authentically performed Baroque opera, not just those who are already fans, should give this recording a try.

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Product Details

Release Date: 01/31/2020
Label: Erato
UPC: 0190295336585
catalogNumber: 533658
Rank: 26331


  1. Agrippina, opera, HWV 6

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