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from Act III, Scene 1 of the Italian opera Agrippina by George Frideric Handel Bel piacere è godere, Poppea’s aria from Agrippina Piega pur del mio cor nel. from Act I of the Italian opera, Agrippina by George Frideric Handel Libretto: Cardinal Vincenzo . Bel piacere e godere from Act III, Scene 1 of the Italian opera. I. Bel piacere | George Frideric Handel. (Vincenzo Grimani). Handel was a prolific composer of the Baroque period. This period is charac-.

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George Frideric Handel’s lost Hamburg operas. Composed for the —10 Venice Carnevale season, the opera tells the story of Agrippinathe mother of Neroas she plots the downfall of the Roman Emperor Claudius and the installation of her son as emperor. Grimani’s libretto, considered one of the best that Handel set, is an “anti-heroic satirical comedy”, [1] full of topical political allusions. Some analysts believe that it reflects Grimani’s political and diplomatic rivalry with Pope Clement XI.

Handel composed Agrippina at the end of a three-year sojourn in Italy. It proved an immediate success and an unprecedented series of 27 consecutive performances followed.

Observers praised the quality of the music—much of which, in keeping with the contemporary custom, had been borrowed and adapted from other works, including the works of other composers. Despite the evident public enthusiasm for the work, Handel did not promote further stagings. There were occasional productions in the years following its premiere but Handel’s operas, including Agrippinafell out of fashion in the midth century.

In the 20th century Agrippina was revived in Germany and premiered in Britain and America. Performances of the work have become ever more common, with innovative stagings at the New York City Opera and the London Coliseum in Modern critical opinion is that Agrippina is Handel’s first operatic masterpiece, full of freshness and musical invention which have made it one of the most popular operas of the ongoing Handel revival.

Handel’s earliest opera compositions, in the German styledate from his Hamburg years, —06, under the influence of Johann Mattheson.

He first settled in Florence where he was introduced to Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti. Handel then spent time in Rome, where the performance of opera was forbidden by Papal decree, [5] and in Naples.

He applied himself to the composition of cantatas and oratorios ; at that time there was little difference apart from increasing length between cantata, oratorio and opera, all based on the alternation of secco recitative and aria da capo.

While in Rome, probably through Alessandro Scarlatti, Handel had become acquainted with Cardinal Grimani, [7] a distinguished diplomat who wrote libretti in his spare time, and acted as an unofficial theatrical agent for the Italian royal courts. Grimani’s libretto is based on much the same story used as the subject of Monteverdi ‘s opera L’incoronazione di Poppea.

Grimani’s libretto centres on Agrippina, a character who does not appear in Monteverdi’s darker version.

The Aria Database – Database Search Results

According to John MainwaringHandel’s first biographer, Agrippina was composed in the three weeks following Handel’s arrival in Venice in Novembera theory supported by the autograph manuscript’s Venetian paper.

Examples of recycled material include Pallas’s “Col raggio placido”, which is based on Lucifer’s pkacere from La resurrezione”O voi dell’Erebo”, which was itself adapted from Reinhard Keiser’s opera Octavia.

Two of the main male roles, Nero and Narcissus, were written for castratithe “superstars of their day” in Italian opera. The instrumentation for Handel’s score follows closely that of all his early operas: On hearing that her husband, the Emperor Claudiushas died in a storm at sea, Agrippina plots to secure the throne for Neroher son by a previous marriage. Nero is unenthusiastic about this project, but consents to his mother’s wishes “Con saggio tuo consiglio”.

Agrippina obtains the support of her two freedmen, Pallas and Narcissuswho hail Nero as the new Emperor before the Senate. With the Senate’s assent, Agrippina and Nero begin to ascend the throne, but the ceremony is interrupted by the entrance of Claudius’s servant Lesbus. He announces that his master is alive “Allegrezza! Otho himself confirms this and reveals that Claudius has promised him the throne as a mark of gratitude. Agrippina is frustrated, until Otho habdel confides to her that he loves the beautiful Poppaea more than he desires the throne.

Agrippina, aware that Claudius also loves Poppaea, sees a new opportunity of furthering her ambitions for Nero. She goes to Poppaea and tells her, falsely, that Otho has struck a bargain with Claudius whereby he, Otho, gains the throne but gives Poppaea to Claudius. Agrippina advises Poppaea to turn the uandel on Otho by telling the Emperor that Otho has ordered her to refuse Claudius’s attentions.


This, Agrippina believes, will make Claudius revoke his promise to Otho of the throne. When Claudius arrives at Poppaea’s house she denounces piacsre she believes is Otho’s piacfre. Claudius departs in fury, while Agrippina cynically consoles Poppaea by declaring that their friendship will never be broken by deceit “Non ho cor che per amarti”.

Pallas and Narcissus realize that Agrippina has tricked them into supporting Nero and decide to have no more to do with her. Otho arrives, nervous about his forthcoming coronation “Coronato il crin d’alloro”followed by Agrippina, Nero and Poppaea, who have come to greet Claudius. All combine in a triumphal chorus “Di timpani e trombe” as Claudius enters. Each in turns pays tribute to the Emperor, but Otho is coldly rebuffed as Claudius denounces him as a traitor.

Otho is devastated and appeals to Agrippina, Poppaea, and Nero for support, but they all reject him, leaving him in bewilderment and despair “Otton, qual portentoso fulmine” followed by “Voi che udite il mio lamento”. However, Poppaea is touched by her former beloved’s grief, and wonders if he might not be innocent “Bella pur nel mio diletto”.

She devises a plan and when Otho approaches her, she pretends to talk in her sleep recounting what Agrippina has told her earlier. Otho, as she intended, overhears her bfl fiercely protests his innocence.

He convinces Poppaea that Agrippina has deceived her. Poppaea swears revenge “Ingannata una sol volta”, alternate aria “Pur punir chi m’ha ingannata” but is distracted when Nero comes forward and declares his love for her.

Meanwhile, Agrippina, having lost the support of Pallas and Narcissus, manages to convince Claudius that Otho is still plotting to hajdel the throne. She advises Claudius that he should end Otho’s ambitions once and for all by abdicating in favour of Nero. Claudius agrees, believing that this will enable him to win Poppaea. Poppaea now plans some deceit of her own, in an effort to divert Claudius’s wrath from Otho with whom she has now reconciled.

She hides Otho in her bedroom with instructions to listen carefully. Soon Nero arrives to press his love on her “Coll’ardor del tuo bel core”but she tricks him into hiding as well. Then Claudius enters; Poppaea tells him that he had earlier misunderstood her: To prove her point she asks Claudius to pretend to leave, then she summons Nero who, thinking Claudius has gone, resumes his passionate wooing of Poppaea.

Claudius suddenly reappears and angrily dismisses the crestfallen Nero. After Claudius departs, Poppaea brings Otho out of hiding and the two express their everlasting love in handwl arias. At the palace, Nero tells Agrippina of his troubles and decides to renounce love for political ambition “Come nube che fugge dal vento”. But Pallas and Narcissus have by now revealed Agrippina’s original plot to Claudius, so that when Agrippina urges the Emperor to yield the throne to Nero, he accuses her of treachery.

She then claims that her efforts to secure the throne for Nero had all along been a ruse to safeguard the throne for Claudius “Se vuoi pace”. Claudius believes her; nevertheless, when Poppaea, Otho, and Nero arrive, Claudius announces that Nero and Poppaea piaacere marry, and that Otho shall bsl the throne. No one is satisfied with this arrangement, as their desires have all changed, hande Claudius in a spirit of reconciliation reverses his judgement, giving Poppaea to Otho and the throne to Nero.

The date of Agrippina ‘ s first performance, about which there was at one time some uncertainty, has been confirmed by a manuscript newsletter as 26 December Agrippina proved extremely popular and established Handel’s international reputation. Between and there were productions of Agrippina in Naples, Hamburg, and Vienna, although Handel himself never revived the opera after its initial run. In this performance the alto role of Otho, composed piaccere a woman, was changed into a bass accompanied by English horns”with calamitous effects on the delicate balance and texture of the score”, according to Winton Dean.

Handl was performed by Piacerre Opera with the conductor, Ivan Fischer, making his debut with the company and the orchestra playing on baroque instruments. Felicity Palmer took the title role. In the opera returned to Venice, for a performance under Christopher Hogwood at the Teatro Malibran.


Hajdel have been numerous productions in the 21st century, including a ultramodern staging by director Lillian Groag at the New York City Opera. This production, revived inwas described by The New York Times critic as “odd Agrippina is considered Handel’s first operatic masterpiece; [1] according to Winton Dean it has few rivals for its “sheer freshness of musical invention”.

The New Penguin Opera Guide describes it as one of the best Handel ever set, and praises the “light touch” with which the characters are vividly portrayed. Sawyer, “among the most convincing of all the composer’s dramatic works”.

Bel Piacere è godere (English translation)

Stylistically, Agrippina follows the standard pattern of the era by alternating recitative and da capo arias. In accordance with 18th-century opera convention the plot is mainly carried forward in the recitatives, while the musical interest and exploration of character takes place in the arias—although on occasion Handel breaks this mould by using arias to advance the action.

Dean and Knapp describe this, and Otho’s aria which follows, as “the peak of the opera”. He points out the range of instruments used for special effects, and writes that “an examination piacerw the score of this air would probably astonish some who think Handel’s orchestration is wanting in variety.

Handel made more use than was then usual of orchestral accompaniment in arias, but in other respects Agrippina is broadly typical of an older operatic tradition. For the most part the arias are brief, there are only two short ensembles, and in the quartet and the trio the voices are not heard together.

Of the main characters, only Brl is not morally contemptible. Agrippina is an unscrupulous schemer; Nero, while not yet the monster he would become, is pampered and hypocritical; Claudius is pompous, complacent, and something of a buffoon, while Poppaea, the first of Handel’s sex kittens, is also a liar and a flirt. The situations in which they find themselves are sometimes comic, but never farcical—like Mozart in the Da Ponte operas, Handel avoids laughing at his characters.

Agrippina (opera) – Wikipedia

In Agrippina the da capo aria is the musical form used to illustrate character in the context of the opera. Grimani’s libretto is full of ironywhich Handel reflects in the music. His settings sometimes illustrate both the surface meaning, as characters attempt to deceive each other, and the hidden truth. For instance, in her aria in act 1, “Non ho cor che per amarti”, Agrippina promises Poppaea that deceit will never mar their new friendship, while tricking her into ruining Otho’s chances for the throne.

Handel’s music illuminates her deceit in the melody and minor modal keywhile a simple, emphasised rhythmic accompaniment hints at clarity and openness. The index of Chrysander’s edition see below lists the following numbers, excluding the secco recitatives.

Variants from the handeo are also noted. Handel’s autograph score survives, with the Sinfonia and first recitatives missing, but is shows significant differences from the libretto, due to changes made for the first performances. Three early manuscript copies, probably dating fromare held in Vienna ; one of these may have been a gift from Grimani to the future Emperor Charles VI.

A manuscript from the s known as the “Flower score” is described by Dean as “a miscellany in haphazard order”. In about the British composer Samuel Arnold produced an edition based on early copies; this edition, while it contains errors and inaccuracies, has been called “probably a reasonable reflection of early performances”.

In Barenreiter published Hellmuth Christian Wolff ‘s edition, prepared for piavere Halle revival and reflecting the casting of basses for Otto and Narcissus, even when they sing what would otherwise be the alto part in the last chorus.

The B flat fugue G 37 appears as an act II overture along with other instrumental music. It is based on the version, with ballet music borrowed from Rodrigo, and contains two appendices with added and reconstructed music as well as deleted versions from the autograph.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

George Frideric Handel Operas. George Frideric Handel’s lost Hamburg operas List of operas.