A new production of Handel’s Agrippina by innovative Australian director Barrie Kosky will receive its UK premiere at the Royal Opera House on 23 September, the Royal Opera has announced.
The opera was composed by George Frederick Handel with a libretto by Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani for the 1709-10 Venice Carnevale. It tells the story of Agrippina, wife of Roman Emperor Claudius and mother of Nero, as she plots to make her son the next emperor.
In Kosky’s new production great men are exposed as incompetent and corrupt by two guileful and astute women – Agrippina herself and Poppea, who against the odds, marries the man of her choice. The award-winning Australian director polarised audiences and critics with his snappy, stylised version of Carmen (Bizet, 1875), which premiered at the Royal Opera House in the 2017-18 season and has already twice been revived. He directs Agrippina with characteristic invention. The production received its world premiere at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich on 23 July 2019.
Agrippina features set designs by Rebecca Ringst and costumes by Klaus Bruns, lighting design by Joachim Klein and dramaturgy by Nikolaus Stenitzer. Music is by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Russian conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, making his Royal Opera debut.
American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings the title role. Kansas-born DiDonato is a multi-Grammy-Award winner and in 2018 received the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. Argentine countertenor Franco Fagioli reprises the role of Nerone (Nero), which he sang at the opera’s premiere. They are joined by English soprano Lucy Crowe as Poppea and English countertenor Iestyn Davies as Ottone.
Agrippina opens on the Royal Opera House’s main stage on 23 September.
Multi-award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings the title role in Handel’s Agrippina.