Ever wondered what Game of Thrones: the Opera might be like? Well, wonder no more, for Brisbane Baroque’s follow up to last year’s Helpmann Award-winning Faramondois a marvellously pitch-black production of Handel’s first big hit, Agrippina, and it has more dirty doings going on than Westeros on an average Saturday night. Not that it’s any darker than history. If we would believe Suetonius, the real Agrippina bedded, in order, her brother (Caligula), her uncle (Claudius) and her son (Nero) before getting her comeuppance by the sword following a desperate swim to shore after Nero had booby-trapped her ship (he’d already tried killing her with the old collapsing bed trick!)
Ulrike Schneider as Agrippina and Russell Harcourt as Nerone
In Handel’s opera, written for Venice as part of his Grand Tour in 1709, the evil Imperatrix is shown endlessly scheming to get her beastly progeny onto the throne while simultaneously extracting him from the arms of the equally duplicitous Poppea. Like Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea(effectively the sequel to Agrippina), it’s a marvellously amoral tale in which the dastardly triumph and we, the audience, revel in watching them do so.