Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours1
HANDEL’S AGRIPPINA
MODERN INTERPRETATIONS
AND THE ROLE OF
COUNTERTENORS
Dr Jacque...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours2
Available versions of Agrippina
1- DVD, Jean-Claude Malgoire & Frédéric Fisbach, ...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours3
Agrippina – Malgoire – 2004
Nerone:
Philippe Jaroussky
Ottone:
Thierry Grégoire
N...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours4
Agrippina – Östman – 2005
Nerone
David Kuebler, tenor
Ottone
Claudio Nicolai, bar...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours5
Agrippina – Jan Willem de Vriend – 2006
Nerone
Michael Hart-Davis, tenor
Ottone
Q...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours6
Faramondo – Fasolis – 2009
Faramondo
Max-Emanuel
Censic
Adolfo
Philippe jaroussky...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours7
Leonardo Vinci – Artaserse – 2012
Artaserse
Phiilippe Jaroussky
Mandane
Max-Emanu...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours8
Duets and other group singing
forms
Act I, Scene X: Agrippina, Nerone, Narciso an...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours9
The one-on-one confrontations, Act I
Agrippina’s apartments
Scene I: Agrippina, N...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours10
The one-on-one confrontations, Act II
A street of Rome near the imperial palace,...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours11
The one-on-one confrontations, Act III
Poppea’s apartments, with a door facing t...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours12
Agrippina, Nerone soprano, countertenor (practically
same pitch and range)
Agrip...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours13
The Castrati in Handel’s Agrippina
Ottone is the victorious general. The typical...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours14
1- Faramondo, victorious, magnanimous, in love
2- Adolfo, younger son of Gustavo...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours15
The decline of the countertenor after 1660
1- Women authorized on stages in 1662...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours16
Laura E. DeMarco’s misguided vision
1- The “castrato” versus the “countertenor”....
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours17
DeMarco’s condescending conclusion
“Since the countertenor is the extreme of
the...
Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours18
Fare Thee Well in Fantastic Music
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Agrippina

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Three productions of Agrippina are available in DVD. In chronological order of the DVD format we have first Jean-Claude Malgoire and Frédéric Fisbach’s production at Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, France in 2004 with La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy (stage production in 2003), Arnold Östman and Michael Hampe’s production at the Rokokotheater Schwetzingen, Germany in 2005 with the London Baroque Players (stage production 1985) and Jan Willem de Vriend and Eva Buchmann’s production at the National Slovak Theatre in Bratislava, Slovakia with the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam in 2006 (stage production 2004). Malgoire was the first to get on DVD. We should add the very recent CD recording of the opera by René Jacobs and the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin released in October 2011 under the Harmonia Mundi label.

The original score counted three male roles in “countertenor” range: Nerone, Ottone and Narciso. The original cast on the first performance was a soprano castrato for Nerone, an alto castrato for Narciso but a female contralto for Ottone, according to Winton Dean. Jean-Claude Malgoire’s production has three countertenors, two called male altos, Philippe Jaroussky for Nerone and Thierry Grégoire for Ottone, and one more called male soprano, Fabrice Di Falco for Narciso. Arnold Östman’s production does not have any countertenor and has replaced them with David Kuebler, a tenor, for Nerone, Claudio Nicolai, a baritone, for Ottone, and Eberhard Katz, a tenor for Narciso. Finally Jan Willem de Vriend’s production has Michael Hart-Davis, a tenor, for Nerone, Quirijn de Lang, a baritone, for Ottone, and Clint Van der Linde, an alto (identified as a boy-soprano and countertenor from South Africa on the Internet), for Narciso.

Clearly only Jean-Claude Malgoire respects the original score, whereas Arnold Östman uses the re-composed score of the 19th or 20th century when castrati had disappeared and were replaced by male voices one octave lower, and Jan Willem de Vriend uses the same 19th-20th century adapted score with the compromise of having a male alto for Narciso since in the 19th-20th century Narciso could have been sung, in the German tradition, by a female soprano like Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier to take one example of the use of female sopranos for young males.

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Agrippina

  1. 1. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours1 HANDEL’S AGRIPPINA MODERN INTERPRETATIONS AND THE ROLE OF COUNTERTENORS Dr Jacques COULARDEAU Synopsis Paie Nice CEGID Boulogne Billancourt
  2. 2. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours2 Available versions of Agrippina 1- DVD, Jean-Claude Malgoire & Frédéric Fisbach, Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, France, 2004, La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy (stage production 2003) 2- DVD, Arnold Östman & Michael Hampe, Rokokotheater Schwetzingen, Germany, 2005, London Baroque Players (stage production 1985) 3- DVD, Jan Willem de Vriend & Eva Buchmann, National Slovak Theatre, Bratislava, Slovakia, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, 2006 (stage production 2004) 4- CD, René Jacobs, Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin, Germany, October 2011, Harmonia Mundi
  3. 3. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours3 Agrippina – Malgoire – 2004 Nerone: Philippe Jaroussky Ottone: Thierry Grégoire Narciso Fabrice Di Falco
  4. 4. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours4 Agrippina – Östman – 2005 Nerone David Kuebler, tenor Ottone Claudio Nicolai, baritone Narciso Eberhard Katz, tenor
  5. 5. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours5 Agrippina – Jan Willem de Vriend – 2006 Nerone Michael Hart-Davis, tenor Ottone Quirijn de Lang, baritone Narciso Clint Van der Linde, boy-soprano, countertenor
  6. 6. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours6 Faramondo – Fasolis – 2009 Faramondo Max-Emanuel Censic Adolfo Philippe jaroussky Gernando Xavier Sabata Childerico Terry Wey
  7. 7. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours7 Leonardo Vinci – Artaserse – 2012 Artaserse Phiilippe Jaroussky Mandane Max-Emanuel Cencic Artabano Daniel Behle, tenor Arbace Franco Fagioli Semira Valer Barna Sabadus Megabise Yuriy Mynenko
  8. 8. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours8 Duets and other group singing forms Act I, Scene X: Agrippina, Nerone, Narciso and Pallante + Lesbo Act II, Scene III: Poppea, Nerone, Agrippina, Ottone, Narciso, Pallante and Lesbo Act II, Scene IV: Nerone, Narciso and Pallante together + Agrippina, Poppea and Ottone Act III, Scene XV: Nerone and Poppea + Ottone + Agrippina Result: One-on-one confrontation of singers and voices
  9. 9. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours9 The one-on-one confrontations, Act I Agrippina’s apartments Scene I: Agrippina, Nerone Scene II: Agrippina alone Scene III: Agrippina Pallante Scene IV: Agrippina alone Scene V: Agrippina, Narciso Scene VI: Agrippina alone The square in front of the Capitol Scene VII Nerone alone Scene VIII: Nerone, Pallante, Narciso Scene IX: Agrippina, Pallante, Narciso, Nerone The hasty crowning of Nerone Scene X: Lesbo, Pallante, Narciso, Agrippina, Nerone Scene XI: Ottone, Agrippina, Narciso, Pallante, Nerone Scene XII: Ottone, Agrippina Scene XIII: Ottone alone Poppea’s chambers Scene XIV: Poppea alone Scene XV: Lesbo, Poppea Scene XVI: Lesbo, Agrippina, Poppea Scene XVII: Poppea alone Scene XVIII: Poppea, Agrippina Scene XIX: Poppea alone Scene XX: Lesbo alone Scene XXI: Claudio Poppea Claudio’s rape attempt on Poppea Scene XXII: Lesbo, Claudio, Poppea Scene XXIII: Poppea, Agrippina Scene XXIV: Poppea alone
  10. 10. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours10 The one-on-one confrontations, Act II A street of Rome near the imperial palace, decorated for Claudio’s triumph Scene I: Pallante, Narciso Scene II: Ottone, Pallante, Narciso Agrippina, Poppea and Nerone descend from the palace with their retinues Scene III: Agrippina, Poppea, Nerone, joining Ottone, Narciso, Pallante Scene IV: Claudio joins Agrippina, Poppea, Nerone, joining Ottone, Narciso, Pallante Nero’s accusation to Ottone: “Sei traditore!” (you are a traitor!) Nero, Narciso, Pallante: Que sento mai? Then systematic one-on-one Ottone, Claudio Claudio leaves Ottone, Agrippina Agrippina leaves Ottone, Poppea Poppea leaves Ottone, Nerone Nerone leaves Ottone, Narciso Narciso leaves Ottone, Pallante Pallante leaves Ottone, Lesbo Lesbo Leaves Scene V: Ottone alone A garden with fountains Scene VI: Poppea alone Scene VII: Poppea, Ottone Scene VIII: Poppea alone Scene IX: Lesbo Poppea Scene X: Poppea alone Scene XI: Poppea Nerone Scene XII: Nerone alone Agrippina’s apartments Scene XIII: Agrippina alone Scene XIV: Agrippina, Pallante Scene XV: Agrippina alone Scene XVI: Agrippina, Narciso Scene XVII: Agrippina, Claudio Scene XVIII: Lesbo, Claudio, Agrippina Scene XX: Agrippina alone
  11. 11. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours11 The one-on-one confrontations, Act III Poppea’s apartments, with a door facing the audience and two others, one on each side. Jean-Claude Malgoire changed this stage direction and replaced the doors behind which two characters, Ottone and Nerone, are supposed to hide with a pink tulle fabric veil. Scene I: Poppea alone Scene II: Poppea, Ottone [Ottone is hidden under a veil] [I will count him only when and if he says something] Scene III: Poppea alone Scene IV: Poppea, Nerone [Nerone is hidden under a veil] [I will count him only when and if he says something] Scene VI: Lesbo, Poppea, Poppea Claudio [Nerone, Ottone, hidden] Scene VII: Claudio, Nerone, Poppea, [Ottone, hidden] Scene VIII: Poppea, Claudio Scene IX: Poppea alone [Ottone, hidden] Scene X: Poppea, Ottone Imperial hall Scene XI: Agrippina, Nerone Scene XII: Pallante, Narciso Scene XIII: Claudio, Pallante, Narciso Scene XIV: Agrippina, Claudio, Pallante, Narciso Scene XV: Claudio, Agrippina, Poppea, Nerone, Ottone. Ends with a general chorus
  12. 12. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours12 Agrippina, Nerone soprano, countertenor (practically same pitch and range) Agrippina, Poppea soprano, soprano Poppea, Nerone soprano, countertenor (practically same pitch and range) Poppea, Ottone soprano, countertenor (slightly lower in pitch) Agrippina, Claudio soprano, baritone Poppea, Claudio soprano, baritone Nerone, Claudio countertenor, baritone Ottone, Claudio countertenor, baritone One secondary pair is introduced as plotters and servants: Pallante, Narciso bass, male soprano The one-on-one vocal confrontations
  13. 13. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours13 The Castrati in Handel’s Agrippina Ottone is the victorious general. The typical military hero. Nerone is a child, a teenager, immature and ambitious, also impulsive and irresponsible. Narciso is a male soprano, with the body language of a young man at the complete service of the wife of the emperor.
  14. 14. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours14 1- Faramondo, victorious, magnanimous, in love 2- Adolfo, younger son of Gustavo, in love 3- Childerico, young confidante, unknown elder son of Gustavo 4- Gernando, plotting treacherous general The Castrati in Handel’s Faramondo
  15. 15. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours15 The decline of the countertenor after 1660 1- Women authorized on stages in 1662. 2- Seen as foppish (effeminate or not) dandies. 3- The arrival of castrati: 1711 with Handel’s Rinaldo with Nicolini. 4- Popular stage music: John Gay and Johann Christoph Pepusch’s The Beggar’s Opera 5- The emergence of the “heroic” tenor in German and Italian opera, along with the “heroic” soprano, from Beethoven onward. The middle-class in England, with some allies in the aristocracy (particularly after the Glorious Revolution, 1688), develops a secular and religious culture based on work and the clear definition of sexual roles. Masculinity becomes definitely associated to Britishness and socio-economic achievement: industry, commerce, education.
  16. 16. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours16 Laura E. DeMarco’s misguided vision 1- The “castrato” versus the “countertenor”. 2- Education and training. 3- Fioritura and improvisation. 4- Flexibility and expressivity, teenage lusty lover, young male lover, heroic-martial-larger-than-life character, traitor. 5- Rejection of “the pants roles”: a- Replace countertenors with mezzo-sopranos. b- Recompose for tenors and baritones.
  17. 17. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours17 DeMarco’s condescending conclusion “Since the countertenor is the extreme of the upper range of a natural male voice, it is by definition a relatively rare voice and, in any generation, something of a freak of nature, much like the comparable, relatively few sopranos who can sing in the octave above the normal high soprano.” Laura E. DeMarco“The fact of the Castrato and the Myth of the Countertenor,”, Oxford University Press, Oxford GB, Musical Quarterly (SPRING 2002) http://mq.oxfordjournals.org/content/86/1/174.citation, p. 174
  18. 18. Handel - Agrippina - Coulardeau - Tours18 Fare Thee Well in Fantastic Music

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