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 is from Liverpool and studied at the University of Exeter and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is a founder of the Old Street Band.

He has performed a wide range of music from Monteverdi to the present day, including 14 Handel operas, 13 oratorios and numerous premieres for composers such as Michael Nyman, Jonathan Dove, Pawel Mykietyn, Fabio Vacchi, Deirdre Gribbin, Thomas Ades and Roxanna Panufnik. He has sung for the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Royal Opera Copenhagen, Salzburg Festival, Halle Handel Festival, Badischestaatsteater Karlsruhe, BBC Proms, Glimmerglass Festival NY, Teatr Wielki Warsaw, Opera du Rhin and in Australia and Japan.

Jonathan has performed with Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, English Baroque Soloists, Gabrieli Consort, Ulster Orchestra under such conductors as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox, David Parry, Ivan Fischer, Thierry Fischer, Jane Glover, Andrew Parrott, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Ivor Bolton, Paul McCreesh, Harry Bicket. Recordings include Mattheus-Passion (Miller/Goodwin); Agrippina (Gardiner); Buxtehude/Cantatas (Immerseel); La conversione di Clodoveo (Gester); Israel in Babylon (Fontaine).

Jonathan is baroque specialist at the Royal College of Music International Opera School and prepared singers for Handel’s Poro, Atalanta, Alessandro, Il pastor fido and Rodelinda, as well as Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with Michael Rosewell whom he also assisted on Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. For Trinity-Laban, Jonathan worked on Giustino and Rinaldo.

Jonathan’s performing edition of Tamerlano has been performed in London, Melbourne, Lisbon, Dublin and Prague.

After many years leading his own ensembles, Jonathan made his operatic conducting debut in 2005 with a staging of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on Valentia Island for artist Dorothy Cross and OTC Dublin. The film was shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and in Los Angeles. In 2007 he conducted a new production of Handel’s Teseo for ETO, touring the UK, and in 2009 a new production of Flavio which opened to great enthusiasm as part of the HANDELFEST marking the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death. From these performances, a new period instrument orchestra, the Old Street Band, was formed, making a highly acclaimed debut in autumn 2011 in a new production of Xerxes. Other appearances include a staging of Carissimi’s Jephte for the National Churches Trust; Monteverdi: 1610 and all that at the RCM and a highly praised The Duchess of Malfi Webster/Gesualdo at the Royal and Derngate Theatre Northampton.

Plans include a revival of Flavio, a production of Alcina in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, where Ariosto (author of Orlando furioso on which Alcina is based) was governor, in summer 2012, a reconstruction of Muzio Scevola (Amadei/Buoncini/Handel) and a new production of Agrippina.

James Conway

James Conway

Director

General Director of ETO, James Conway has directed 24 new productions and 4 revivals for the company, including Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (to be revived in 2015), Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena and Handel’s Alcina, Ariodante, Teseo, Tolomeo, Flavio, Xerxes and Agrippina. Other notable ETO productions include Eugene Onegin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Simon Boccanegra, The Emperor of Atlantis and the world première of Alexander Goehr’s Promised End. For RCM he directed L’incoronazione di Poppea and Le nozze di Figaro, and for the Canadian Opera Company Don Giovanni. His production of The Cunning Little Vixen is in repertory at the Moravian National Theatre in Janacek’s home city of Brno. He has written original libretti for 2 operas and translations for 5 others, as well as several works of fiction; his most recent translation was last season’s Agrippina. Upcoming productions include Giulio Cesare (Lucca) and Ottone (ETO).

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

Andrew studied at Royal Northern College of Music and St Petersburg Conservatoire. He has performed more than 75 opera roles including Lotario, Ariodate, Falstaff, Bottom, Bartolo, Blitch, Alfonso, Donald and Araspe (All ETO); Ben Selim (Royal Opera House), Nachtigal (Grange Park Opera), Golaud (Glyndebourne Touring Opera), Faninal (Scottish Opera), Basilio (Welsh National Opera), Sacristan (Opera North), Colline (English National Opera) etc.

Recordings include Nyman, Love Counts and Mozart 252 (MNR); Michael Berkeley, Jane Eyre (Chandos); Stravinsky, The Flood (Twentieth Century Classics).

Clint van der Linde

Clint van der Linde

Countertenor

Ottone

Clint studied at the RCM. He has worked as a soloist with many groups such as the OAE; RPO; The Academy of Ancient Music; The London Handel Orchestra; Le Musiche Nove; Israel Camerata. Clint’s opera roles include Lotario/ Flavio/ Flavio; Dardano/ Amadigi; Judas/ Brockes Passion; In November 2001 he sang the role of Oberon/ A Midsummer Night‘s Dream, which was the launch of the BBIOS, and also performed this role in the ROH in Copenhagen in 2004. Festival engagements include Carmina Burana (Ludwigsburger Schossfestspiele); Halle Händel Festspiele; Cuenca Festival, Spain. In addition, Clint recorded the title role of Francesco Conti’s David with the Lautten Compagney. In December, Clint will tour Handel’s Messiah (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Queensland Orchestra).

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

Paula received the Tagor Gold Medal from the RCM and the Karaviotis Prize at the Les Azuriales International Competition. At RCM, she was a finalist for the Young Concert Artists Trust and received the Coutts & Co. Award along with the Sir Thomas Allen Scholarship supported by a Clayton Award. Operatic roles include Norina/ Don Pasquale, Gilda/ Rigoletto (Preggio Opera Festival, Italy); Atalanta/ Atalanta (Handel Society); Bastienne/ Bastien und Bastienne (Skipton Camerata); Mimi/ La bohème, Inez/ Il trovatore (both Opus I Opera); Grasshopper/ The Cunning Little Vixen (RCM). Covers include Governess/ Turn of the Screw (Opera North). Concert engagements include Mozart Unwrapped (King’s Place with Roger Vignoles November 2011), City of Dreams (Philharmonia Orchestra concert series 2009); City Music Society series (Eric Falk Trust Award). Paula has also recorded a Peroni advert soundtrack. Previously for ETO, Paula has performed the roles of Pamina/ The Magic Flute, Clizia/ Teseo, Emilia/ Flavio, Susanna/ Figaro.
www.operauk.com/paula-sides

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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