Saturday, February 29, 2020

Agrippina in HD


Conductor...............Harry Bicket
Production..............David McVicar

Agrippina.............Joyce DiDonato
Nerone, her son.........Kate Lindsey
Claudio, her husband the emperor.....Matthew Rose 
Poppea, her rival..........Brenda Rae
Ottone..................Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
Narciso.................Nicholas Tamagna (countertenor)
Pallante................Duncan Rock
 
Deborah Voigt announced that Handel's Agrippina, 1709, was the oldest opera ever presented at the Met.  As I mentioned after the last time I saw it, it was composed for Venice early in the era of Neapolitan opera.  That means lots and lots of da capo arias and a happy ending.  What is more Venice than Naples is the mixing of comic and serious elements.  The Venetians weren't fussy about that stuff.

This is the most I have enjoyed a Baroque opera maybe ever.  This is regie, of course.  The clothes are modern with lots of WWII military uniforms.  There is a bar scene where all the characters seem to meet by accident.  Maybe it's on the frequently mentioned Campidoglio. When Rome conquers England, they return with Elizabeth II's crown.  One of the scenes showed the ceiling of the Pantheon which brought some character to the mostly abstract sets.

What makes this a great opera is the well designed plot.  No matter how difficult the complexities are for our heroine, she conquers them all.

I was going to say there is no hit tune until Nerone sang "Come nembo" while snorting cocaine.  This is known because Bartoli recorded it.  The most unusual thing about this production is the staging of the character Nerone.  I think we are to presume that he is a very athletic, well-tattooed juvenile delinquent.  He loves his mother and acts up continuously.  Kate Lindsey said she had to train for this role.  We believe her.  Her rendition of "Come nembo" was excellent.

The music was always excellent, but no one topped the magnificent Joyce DiDonato who created a wonderful, perfectly believable evil character and topped it with gorgeous singing.

No comments: