Music, Classical and opera

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 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.

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 Emperor Claudius, schemes and manipulates to secure the succession to the imperial throne for her son, Nero.

ETO’s new production sees Handel specialist Jonathan Peter Kenny conduct the Old Street Band, with a cast that includes Gillian Webster as the eponymous heroine, Andrew Slater as Claudius and Jake Arditti as Nero.

(A new production, sung in English, with a live period orchestra.

Running time: three hours.)