I've seen a lot of Handel's stage works over the years and enjoyed many of them but he wouldn't be my first choice for a night at the opera. However, seeing this yesterday (Dress Rehearsal) I was completely bowled over. I can't actually believe I'm writing this as the production was by Barrie Kosky. Previously I hated his 'The Nose' and truly detested his 'Carmen.' But this was a very witty, satisfying production that clarified brilliantly the complex plot, brought hilarious scenes of almost Brian Rix like farce when Poppea is 'entertaining' her three lovers simultaneously and didn't out stay its almost 4 hour running time. That was helped by some top draw singing and orchestral playing. In the pit were baroque specialists The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment playing very stylishly with the young Russian conductor Maxim Emelyanychev on continuo.
Joyce Didonato was predictably wonderful as the scheming Agrippina but she was matched in vocal finesse and acting ability by the fabulous Lucy Crowe as Poppea - what a wonderfully versatile singer she is.
It was also a feast of world class counter tenor singing with Iestyn Davies as Ottone and Franco Fagioli playing Nerone as a spoilt brat son, complete with tattooed skinhead and piercings.
Another pleasure was some sassy frocks for the women - flouncey and elaborate for Poppea and more severe power dressing for Agrippina, who, at one point, seems to be paying homage to Gloria Swanson.
Post by AddisonMizner on Sept 23, 2019 16:52:52 GMT
I really wanted to see this, but they have done absolutely no weekend shows, and I cannot get to London in the week during term time. It’s a shame. Joyce can really make these long Handel pieces come to life.