Agrippina

George Frideric Handel - Autumn 2013

An unlikely comedy about Agrippina’s struggle to secure Rome’s throne for her son, set to some of Handel’s finest music.

Conductor 
Jonathan Peter Kenny
Director 
James Conway
Orchestra 
Old Street Band
Designer 
Samal Blak
Lighting Designer 
Ace McCarron

★★★★★ The Independent
★★★★★ Bachtrack
★★★★ Telegraph
★★★★ Evening Standard
★★★★ Whatsonstage

Handel’s three year visit to Italy culminated in the premiere of his opera Agrippina in Venice in 1709. Composing at speed to a scandalously witty and ironic libretto by a Cardinal, Vincenzo Grimani, Handel drew on his experience of the Italian style, plundering his catalogue of cantatas written for the intelligentsia of Rome and producing a youthful masterpiece of dazzling invention and virtuosity.

Season trailer

Filmed and edited by Richard Hubert Smith: www.richardhs.com

Interview with ETO director James Conway

Widely regarded as Handel’s first operatic masterpiece, Agrippina stands out for the quality of its music, full of freshness and musical invention.

Using many of the same characters as Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, the opera is in fact a prequel, as Agrippina, wife to the Emperor Claudius, schemes and manipulates to secure the succession to the imperial throne for her son, Nero.

ETO’s new production is conducted by Handel specialist Jonathan Peter Kenny; the cast includes Gillian Webster as the eponymous heroine, Andrew Slater as Claudius and Jake Arditti as Nero.

New production, sung in English
Touring with a live period orchestra
Running time: approx. 3 hours (incl. interval)
This production contains haze effects

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Music playlist

Showing At

  1. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London
    8th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  2. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London
    11th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  3. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London
    12th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  4. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    19th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  5. Malvern Theatres
    24th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  6. Harrogate Theatre
    2nd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  7. Gala Theatre, Durham
    4th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  8. Buxton Opera House
    9th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  9. Cambridge Arts Theatre
    15th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  10. Cambridge Arts Theatre
    16th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    22nd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  12. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    23rd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  1. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London — 8th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2BS

  2. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London — 11th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2BS

  3. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London — 12th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2BS

  4. Snape Maltings Concert Hall — 19th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP

  5. Malvern Theatres — 24th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 3HB

  6. Harrogate Theatre — 2nd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Harrogate Theatre, Oxford Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1QF

  7. Gala Theatre, Durham — 4th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    1 Millennium Place, Town Centre, Durham, DH1 1WA

  8. Buxton Opera House — 9th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Water Street, SK17 6XN

  9. Cambridge Arts Theatre — 15th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    6 St Edward's Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PJ

  10. Cambridge Arts Theatre — 16th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    6 St Edward's Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PJ

  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 22nd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

  12. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 23rd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

Jonathan Peter Kenny

Jonathan Peter Kenny

Conductor

Jonathan Peter Kenny is from Liverpool. Conducting appearances include Flavio, Xerxes, Agrippina, Ottone, Iphigénie en Tauride, Giulio Cesare, Johannes-Passion, Mass in B minor, Matthäus-Passion (ETO), Cesare, Rinaldo, Radamisto, Alcina, Serse (Lucca),The Duchess of Malfi (Royal and Derngate), Stabat Mater (Dorothy Cross/OTC), Orfeo, Dido (RCM), Anxiety Fanfare (Kings Place, RFH), Memorial (London Barbican, Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival). He has performed with ROH, ENO, Glyndebourne, Salzburg Festival, Royal Opera Copenhagen, Teatro comunale Bologna, Glimmerglass NY, BBC Proms, AAM, OAE, EBS, RLPO, RSNO, UO, Gabrieli Consort, with Gardiner, Hickox, Fischer, Parrott, Mortensen, Bolton, and Bicket. Recordings include: Matthäus-Passion (Miller/Goodwin), Agrippina (Gardiner), Buxtehude Cantatas (Immerseel), Puccini Requiem (Fontaine). His edition of Handel’s Tamerlano has been produced in Dublin, Melbourne, Lisbon, and London.

James Conway

James Conway

Director

As General Director of ETO for 17 years and ETO’s Artistic Director since April 2019, James Conway has directed productions of operas by Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Donizetti, Janácek, Puccini, Debussy, Ullmann, Britten and Tippett, as well as a world premiere by Alexander Goehr. Before coming to ETO he was General Director of Opera Theatre Company in Dublin; his productions for that company travelled to New York (Brooklyn Academy of Music), and to festivals in Melbourne, London, Buxton, Paris, Dusseldorf, Prague, Brno, Lisbon and Porto. Notable among his freelance directing is the long-running production of The Cunning Little Vixen at the Janácek Theatre, Brno.

Old Street Band

Old Street Band

Orchestra

Samal Blak

Samal Blak

Designer

Ace McCarron

Ace McCarron

Lighting Designer

Cast

Gillian Webster

Gillian Webster

Soprano

Agrippina

Andrew Slater

Andrew Slater

Bass

Claudio

For the last thirty years Andrew has been singing principal roles with UK opera companies. Thanks to the solid singing technique provided by the RNCM in the 1980s his voice has remained fresh as the odd grey hair has arrived, and he now looks and sounds ideal for the low voice roles of nobility or malevolence which abound in the repertoire. He is also good as the fat funny bloke. There is, in fact a role to suit him in almost every opera. He is eternally good humoured – taking as a blessing that his job is the activity he would do for fun around a conventional career. Married to a soprano whose international career allows him to travel the world in style, he also teaches a bit at the University of Huddersfield.

Clint van der Linde

Clint van der Linde

Countertenor

Ottone

Clint’s opera and concert work has taken him to Australia, NZ, SA, US, Israel, Japan and through out Western and Central Europe. In Festivals including BBC proms (Royal Albert Hall), Mostly Mozart Festival at the Alice Tully Hall(NYC), Bach Festival Leipzich, Wellington Festival(NZ) and Edinbugh Festival. Collaborating with the AAM, The Goettingen Festspieler Orchestra, Il Fondamento, the Hanover Band, the Israel Camerata, the King`s Consort, the LHO, LMN, the OAE, the RPO the Salzburg Camerata, Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Bach Collegium Japan. Conducters, Masaaki Suzuki, Stephen Layton, Sir Roger Norrington, Frieder Bernius, Nicholas Kraemer, Stephen Cleobury, Peter Schreier, Wolfgang Katchner, George Petrou, Leonardo Alarcon and Paul Dombrecht.

Jake Arditti

Jake Arditti

Countertenor

Nerone

Finalist and special prize winner at the 2012 Innsbruck International Baroque Singing Competition‚ countertenor Jake Arditti studied at the Guildhall School and the Royal College of Music’s prestigious Opera School, supported by a Countess of Munster Musical Trust Award‚ a Drapers Company‚ Baroness de Turckheim Scholarship and the Josephine Baker Trust. His professional career began as a treble‚ performing with English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival‚ where he sang Yniold Pelléas et Mélisande.

Recent and future plans include Othniel in Handel’s Joshua and Spirit Dido and Aeneas for Opera North‚ Nireno Julius Caesar (ENO)‚ Cupid Venus and Adonis and Spirit (Innsbruck Festival)‚ title role Riccardo Primo (London Handel Festival under Laurence Cummings)‚ Guido Flavio (ETO) and SUM , a new work by Max Richter (ROH2). Other roles include Apollo Terpsicore/Il Pastor Fido and Unulfo Rodelinda (London Handel Festival).

Theatre work includes The Revenger’s Tragedy and Dido Queen of Carthage (National Theatre) and Laurie Sansom’s critically-acclaimed production of The Duchess of Malfi for The Royal and Derngate‚ Northampton.

Recent and future concerts include performances at Heidelberg’s Frühling Festival of Respighi’s Il Tramonto and Hilda Paredes’ Canciones Lunaticas for countertenor and string quartet‚ which had its UK premiere at the Wigmore Hall and will be performed at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival, and The Pera Ensemble’s Soul to Soul programme (Heidelberg and Cologne) as well as performances with the Arditti Quartet at the Wien Modern (Vienna)‚ Festival d’Automne (Paris)‚ Edenkoben, Germany and Tokyo.

Luke D Williams

Luke D Williams

Baritone

Lesbo

Nicholas Merryweather

Nicholas Merryweather

Baritone

Pallante

Sheffield born, Nicholas Merryweather studied at the Musikhochschule in Cologne and on the opera course at GSMD. He was a recipient of the ETO Chris Ball Bursary in 2011 and the 2008 Glyndebourne Wessex Award. Nicholas’s operatic roles include Don Giovanni, Papageno The Magic Flute and Mozart’s Figaro (LFO); Don Polidoro The Italian Girl in London (Buxton Festival); Cassandro La Finta Semplice for Bampton Classical Opera; Blazes The Lighthouse, title role Fantastic Mr Fox, Marco Gianni Schicchi (ETO). Concert engagements include Bach with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Handel with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and Hallé Orchestra.

Paula Sides

Paula Sides

Soprano

Poppea

Recently applauded for her performance of Tosca with English Touring Opera, Paula Sides was awarded the Tagor Gold Medal from the Royal College of the Music and was the winner of the Karavoitis Prize in the Les Azureal International Competition. In 2018 operatic performances include the title role of Thais with Chelsea Opera Group, receiving critical acclaim, Cunegonde, Iford Opera. and Sombra, The Arcadians Opera Della Luna. This year on the concert platform performances include Mahler 8, Britten’s War Requiem, Rutter’s Requiem, Dona Nobis Pacem, Vaughan Williams, Beethoven 9, Dvorak’s 9th Symphony. Upcoming engagements Donna Anna Don Giovanni Longborough Opera Summer 2019.

Russell Harcourt

Russell Harcourt

Countertenor

Narciso

Sydney born counter tenor Russell Harcourt was a finalist at the 2012 Kathleen Ferrier Awards. He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, at the Royal Academy of Music and he is an Associate Artist of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House performing there for the first time in the 2011 Deloitte Ignite Series. He made his operatic debut in 2007 as Oberon A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Last season he sung Corrado in Vivaldi’s Griselda for Pinchgut Opera in Sydney under Erin Helyard. He has covered Fox/Coachman in The Adventures of Pinocchio for Opera North, Armindo in Partenope for Opera Australia, Roberto in Griselda for Pinchgut Opera, and Zelim in Vivaldi’s La Verita in Cimento and Licida in Vivaldi’s L’Olimpiade for Garsington Opera Festival. His roles at the Royal Academy of Music included Athamas Semele under Sir Charles Mackerras and Volano in Cavalli’s Il Giasone conducted by Jane Glover. He recently sang Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Australian Ballet and plans include Messiah in Wellington, New Zealand.

James Conway’s inspired production… in which the sight-gags come thick and fast, and in which an ensemble performance of enormous wit and zest is supported by an ingenious rotating set plus marvellous costumes by designer Samal Blak.

★★★★★ The Independent

This joyous production makes the most of the music, the characters, and the alternately hilarious and unsettling plot of Handel’s early masterpiece. For an evening of variety, excitement, intrigue, humour, and death-defying singing – you need look no further.

★★★★★ Bachtrack

Genuinely funny… The singing is excellent: Gillian Webster’s scheming Agrippina, Paula Sides’ equally manipulative Poppea and Jake Arditti’s effete Nero all deserve special mention. Together with Handel’s unfailingly glorious music, it all makes for a terrific show.

★★★★ Evening Standard

There are some outstanding performances in this adept production of Handel’s most overtly satirical opera. All round an excellent team effort, which I warmly recommend to Handelians.

★★★★ The Telegraph

James Conway’s new production is simple and elegant, leaving embellishments to the vocal line… The driving force of the show is the energetic conducting of Jonathan Peter Kenny and the spirited sound of the Old Street Band.

★★★★ Whatsonstage

Webster is both entertaining and vocally dazzling.

The Times

Webster made a strong impression in her opening aria and continued to do so… Paula Sides performance was very funny, and nicely judged… Arditti managed to impress with his command of the vocal line… Conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny drew strong, crisp playing from the players.

Planet Hugill

The score comes over strongly, given the fluent musicianship of the Old Street Band under the baton of conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny.

The Stage

Gillian Webster is supremely good… ETO’s productions leave their mark in a sense of ebullient energy. You feel very well entertained on leaving the theatre, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

The Arts Desk

Showing At

  1. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London
    8th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  2. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London
    11th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  3. Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, London
    12th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  4. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    19th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  5. Malvern Theatres
    24th Oct 2013 - 7:30 pm
  6. Harrogate Theatre
    2nd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  7. Gala Theatre, Durham
    4th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  8. Buxton Opera House
    9th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  9. Cambridge Arts Theatre
    15th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  10. Cambridge Arts Theatre
    16th Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    22nd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm
  12. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    23rd Nov 2013 - 7:30 pm

Your Comments

  1. Thank you, ETO and Maestro Kenny, for a wonderful evening with Agrippina yesterday in Malvern. Ensemble playing, singing and acting proved a breath of fresh air, the very element that JPK breathed into GFH's miraculous score by inspiring his Band to greater heights. Wonderful, wonderful production (and I am one of those GFH purists that grump about strummers, and about conductors tinkering with the score, etc).

    Said Les Robarts at 16:25pm on 25th Oct 2013

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