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Agrippina [3 CD] Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Performer: Della Jones, Alastair Miles, Derek Lee Ragin, Michael Chance, Donna Brown, et al.
  • Orchestra: English Baroque Soloists
  • Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (April 10, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000NOKA9O
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,204 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Marcolorenzo on September 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A desert island choice. Early Handel opera written for the opera house in Venice at the end of Handel's Italian trip. Soloists are superb, as is the conducting and orchestra. A treasure house of melody Handel later borrowed from in later operas. A classic, essential choice for any Handel collection. The McGegan version, now out of print, for Harmonia Mundi is also very good.Handel - Agrippina / Bradshaw, Saffer, Minter, W. Hill, Isherwood, Popken, M. Dean, Banditelli, Szílágyí, Capella Savaria, McGegan
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Format: Audio CD
GARDINER AND FORCES PRESENT A SUPERB INTERPRETATION AND PERFORMANCE OF THIS HANDEL OPERA!

On 26 December 1709 'Agrippina', Handel's first dramatic masterpiece, was produced in Venice, the homeland of opera. It was a triumph. The theater echoed shouts of 'Viva il caro Sassone' and the opera received no less than twenty-seven performances.

The author of the libretto was Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani, a distinguished diplomat and Viceroy of Naples. Whether deliberately or by happy accident,he was able for the first time to release Handel's extraordinary insight into manifold subtleties of human nature. His libretto displays an uncanny sensitivity to human nature that contains: intimate irony, serious emotions portrayed and immediately accessible comic situations, rather than heroic declamatory high drama.

There is a very apt quote from Shakespeare that came to my mind the first time I watched this intriguing opera: "HELL IS EMPTY AND ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE!" 'Agrippina' permits,indeed encourages, the frailties, idocyncracies and amorality of the principal characters to reveal themselves: Gardiner's more restrained approach assists and underlines this. Simply put, Agrippina plots the downfall of Claudius (the emperor) in order for her son, Nero, to become Emperor in his place. It would be easy to condemn her manipulations and lust for power, but Handel's dispassionate and non-judgemental observation makes us more likely to care about the fates of each character. Thus, there is humanity as the end result: that nothing, especially evil,is simple. Gardiner's forces have understood this.

With a single exception the characters, judged by their words and deeds, are morally worthless, but not all are without redeeming features.
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Format: Audio CD
Handel: Agrippina being a recording under the direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner who leads the English Baroque Soloists on this Phillips recording from 1997. Ann Sophie Von Otter is amazing on this recording and being a fellow Swede I can only admit that I am quite proud of her prowess as a singer. The booklet contains 235 pages. It includes two well written essays. The first entitled "Humour with Human Commitment Handels 'Agrippina'" written by Winton Dean. The second one is a synopsis of the opera written by Gloria Staffieri and translated into English by George Hall. The booklet also contains photographs of the performers at the time of the recording. It also contains a very nice painting of the composer himself painted by Jan van der Banck. All the lyrics are available in English, French, German and Italian. Highly recommended. 5/5.
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