Facing Agrippina

Focus on Handel's opera Agrippina. With René Jacobs (conductor)

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Vincent Boussard — Stage director

Christian Lacroix — Costume designer

Francis Hüsers — Dramaturgy

Alex Penda (a.k.a. Alexandrina Pendatchanska) — Soprano

Anna Prohaska — Soprano

Jennifer Rivera — Mezzo-soprano

Bejun Mehta — Countertenor

Dominique Visse — Countertenor

Daniel Schmutzhard — Baritone

Neal Davies — Bass-baritone

Marcos Fink — Bass-baritone

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

René Jacobs — Conductor

Program notes

At the centre of the documentary, the opera seria Agrippina, a masterwork by Georg Friedrich Handel, performed by an exceptional casting.

Composed on a libretto by Vincenzo Grimani, Agrippina tells the story of Agrippina the Younger, mother of Nero, capable of any plot against the Roman Emperor Claude to enthrone her son. Premiered at the 1709-1710 season of the Carnival of Venice, this opera seria in three acts, considered Handel's first masterwork for its splendour and its musical creativity, is at the center of Nayo Titzin's original documentary.

The casting for this new performance measures up to this exceptional piece. Grammy Award-winning conductor René Jacobs, leads the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Akamus). The famous chamber orchestra enhances the voices of the talented Bulgarian soprano Alex Penda (performing the title role), Anna Prohaska, Jennifer Rivera, Bejun Mehta, Dominique Visse, Daniel Schmutzhard, Neal Davies and Marcos Fink. The costumes of the renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix and the staging of another French talent, Vincent Boussard, give to this story all its beauty and intensity.

Agrippina is a captivating woman because of her strength, but also through her fiery and passionate personality. The beauty of this character shows without any doubt this maternal instinct, so strong that she becomes a Machiavellian monster ready to go beyond all limits to obtain what she wants. The lust for power hiding in her motivations and forcing her to use her assets gives to this complex character a very modern dimension. From the Berlin's Staatsoper to the Louvre in Paris where the busts bring back the memories of those heroes, Handel's music carries everyone away.

This movie by Nayo Titzin won the award for Best Cinematography in music at the World Music and Independent film festival (WMIFF) of Washington in 2011. It was selected at the International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) of Biarritz in 2011 and at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) of Montreal in 2012.

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