Barrie Kosky stages AGRIPPINA
It could be material for yet another season of the political thriller series, House of Cards: Roman Emperor Claudius is said to have drowned while returning from his successful campaign in Britannia. Herein his wife Agrippina sees the opportunity for Nero, her son from her first marriage, to seize the throne. With intrigue, lies and seduction she employs all to empower her son. Georg Friedrich Händel’s “dramma per musica” Agrippina is our second Festival new production and celebrates its premiere in the Prinzregententheater on 23 July 2019. Australian director Barrie Kosky stages the baroque opera. Kosky has already produced Strauss’s Die schweigsame Frau (2010) and Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel (2016) for the Bayerische Staatsoper. Ivor Bolton conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Bolton is a baroque specialist, who has also conducted the premieres of Rameau's Les Indes galantes (2016) and Weber’s Oberon, König der Elfen (2017), among others. British mezzo-soprano Alice Coote sings the title role. At her side, Gianluca Buratto (Claudius) and counter-tenor Franco Fagioli (Nero) make their house debuts, while ensemble member Elsa Benoît is Poppea.
Like an overdose of caffeine!
The world premiere of Agrippina in 1709 in Venice was an incredible success for the young Händel. Cardinal and theatre owner Vincenzo Grimani, who probably also wrote the libretto, had commissioned Händel to compose the opera. It is also assumed that much of the everyday politics of the Vatican and the city state that Venice was at the time were incorporated into the plot, so audiences could amuse themselves with the innuendos and insinuations. Among others the role of Claire Underwood in the political series House of Cards was a source of inspiration for director Barrie Kosky: “I like this kind of cold, blonde façade in a dress, bearing testament to exquisite taste. [...] Cold and beautiful in a tender way, yet with an inner life that exudes the fever of countless unfulfilled wishes.” Agrippina wants power, not for herself, but for her son, Nero. It is also the role that Agrippina assumes as a mother that interests Barrie Kosky. Politics, power and eroticism, but also complex characters and psychological states, all feature at the centre of this opera. “The characters’ world of contemplation is extremely lively. Recitatives and arias must string sequentially without a break. Like an overdose of caffeine!”, says Kosky in an interview for the latest edition of MAX JOSEPH.