Agrippina

This opera seria by Handel, written between 1709 and 1710, is a politically incorrect comedy about how to seize or hang on to power, the tale of a battle between female patricians. McVicar views this virtually wicked text in the light of the aesthetic of the most sophisticated soap operas of the 1980s. Agrippina and Poppea – the two great rivals...

This opera seria by Handel, written between 1709 and 1710, is a politically incorrect comedy about how to seize or hang on to power, the tale of a battle between female patricians. McVicar views this virtually wicked text in the light of the aesthetic of the most sophisticated soap operas of the 1980s. Agrippina and Poppea – the two great rivals – behave with the tyrannical confidence of the leading ladies of Dynasty or Falcon Crest, waging all-out war on stiletto heels, oblivious to ethical constraints or obstacles.  Seduction and sex are mere tools for getting what they want, by fair means or foul. Yet paradoxically, the characters of this amoral farce are not caricatures. Three hundred years after its premiere, Agrippina still interests the audience because the protagonists are three-dimensional, almost Mozartian, in their human contradictions and complexity.

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