Such an opera stands or falls by its singing. In Buxton it totters. The outstanding voice is Timothy Wilson's counter-tenor, whose precision and subtlety lend genuine pathos to the part of Otho; Susan Roberts rises impressively to the considerable demands of the title role. Otherwise, the general aim on the opening night seemed to be to survive the arias rather than to revel in them, and in some cases the canto fell distinctly short of bel.
In Venice around the time of Agrippina's first production in 1709, opera audiences used to divert themselves by, among other things, spitting from the boxes onto the plebs in the stalls. I begin to understand why.
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