There’s a few people I see regularly as I walk along the park all weather path. As I head to the gym there’s a few in particular. We regularly exchange jolly ‘Good Morning‘s as we pass. Sometimes I even get to pat the dogs.
Today, just after 6pm, I was walking to the Maltings along the all weather path and spotted one of those people, walking her dog, coming towards me. Before I could say ‘Good Evening‘ she burst out with a ‘Good Morning‘ followed by a laugh and a hurried explanation that it was because she only ever sees me in the morning.
It’s small things like that that fill my days. Most days, anyway. Today was filled with a bit more than the usual passing greetings.
The reason I was walking to the Maltings this evening was in order to watch the Met Opera streamed Agrippina in the Great Hall.
Handel composed Agrippina for the 1709-10 Carnevale season in Venice. The librettist was Vincenzi Grimani and it is believed that the satirical comedy within the opera was as a result of his feud with the Pope of the time. I don’t know about that but I do know it’s very funny. In a satirical way.
The beauty of the satire is that it can be applied to today just as much as it was in 18th century Italy and ancient Rome. The whole premise of a power being won by lies reflects the current UK government perfectly.
Agrippina tells the story of the eponymous mother of Nero as she employs numerous machinations in order to replace Emperor Claudio with her son. She is ruthless, using her female wiles and the weakness of the males around her to push her psycho son forward.
Joyce DiDonato was a delightfully wicked Agrippina. The men swoon over her and are brought down by their over active desires. Ms DiDonato obviously takes great joy in the part. The glint in her eyes is unmistakable.
The other femme fatale in the opera is Poppea (wonderful Brenda Rae) who counter plots Agrippina when she realises she’s just a pawn in the older woman’s plan. The scene in the bar is just amazing.
Actually, a highlight of the bar scene was the conductor, Harry Bicket. He jumped up on stage for a bit of a harpsichord solo. Like an 18th century Piano Man. It was tremendous fun.
Ottone (Iestyn Davies with an extraordinarily high voice), Pallante (Duncan Rock) and Claudio (Matthew Rose) were all fabulous male playthings in the hands of the puppeteer’s scheming. (When asked, during the interval, where he learned his comic timing, Matthew Rose said it was because he watched Carry On films as a child growing up in England.)
But, best of all and in an amazing performance, Nerone played perfectly by Kate Lindsey was superb. Her portrayal of Nero as the young psycho-to-be was flawless. The sheer amount of cocaine was enough to push him over the edge. If you ask me.
Funnily enough, years ago I went to Woking to see the Glyndbourne production of The Coronation of Poppea and Nero was played by a woman (Lucia Cirillo). Of course, the opera was very different (and historically later though written before), but the vocal range, I think, is similar.
It was, all in all, a splendid night at the opera.