Agrippina at Iford Festival

AGRIPPINA-ROB-COLES-IFORDARTS-022HANDEL’s Agrippina is a dark story about family jealousies and treachery, extra-marital liaisons  and power plotting – so what more natural updating than to the days of Dynasty!

That’s how director Bruno Ravella envisaged the final opera in the 2015 Iford Festival, with Alinka Kozari in the title role done up like Joan-Collins-as-Alexis, her rival Poppea (Louise Kemeny) designer-clad for the gym, and Nerone (the joyously boyish Ciara Hendrick) all punky teenage attitude.

AGRIPPINA-ROB-COLES-IFORDARTS-137The clever updating extended to a blue-lit sauna surrounding the Iford Cloister well – which also doubled as a bed of shame – and Bradley Travis’s Lesbus as a Manilow-esque aide.

Like so many of Handel’s operas, the plot is labyrinthine and the music sometimes achingly beautiful.

Here the wronged and loving Ottone (rising star countertenor and former Wells Cathedral Music School pupil Rupert Enticknap) gets the poignant arias, leaving Agrippina and Poppea with the fireworks – and magnificently they set them off.

AGRIPPINA-ROB-COLES-IFORDARTS-312Andrew Slater made the most of the humour as the huffy and adulterous Emperor Claudio and Gareth Brynmor John and Tom Verney enjoyed the roles of the fawning plotters.

With the excellent Iford Baroque orchestra under the baton of Chris­to­pher Bucknall, this was a production to be cherished.



Photographs by Rob Coles

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