Agrippina: from Roman history to Handel opera
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: MD819
Duration: 1 session
What is the course about?
Handel was almost twenty-five years old when he wroteAgrippina for the Venice Carnivale season in the winter of 1709-10. The libretto was written by Vincenzo Grimani, a diplomat and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and offered a tale suitable for carnival enjoyment. The success of this work is thought to have been a key moment in establishing Handel’s international reputation as a master of Italian opera.
This course is presented in two sections, Roman history and music history, inviting you to compare the different portrayals of Agrippina’s remarkable life.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
13.00-14.30 with Justin Murray
- An introduction to the Roman characters Julia Agrippina, Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus, Nero, Poppaea Sabina and Marcus Salvius Otho
- Agrippina’s marriages, rumours that she murdered her husband (and uncle) Emperor Claudius
- Agrippina’s power and subsequent attempts on her life.
15.00-16.30 with Pauline Greene
- An introduction to the synopsis of Grimani’s libretto and Venetian humour/expectations
- Key features of Handel’s operatic setting including scene structure, aria, recitative and voice types in baroque opera.
- A exploration of the structure of one of Agrippina’s da capo arias in detail including word setting and vocal ornamentation.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Form an overview of the biography and subsequent operatic portrayal of Julia Agrippina
- recognize key structural features of Handel’s operatic work
- feel confident using some technical language to describe this work eg. Continuo, ritornello, cadenza
- discuss voice-types and their various timbres.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for absolute beginners. However, we will look at some music manuscripts and learn to identify key features of music notation (how many violins are playing, etc…) so this course will be most suitable for those who are curious and ambitious to learn.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This is an online course:
The live session will be on Zoom and comprise of lecture, discussion, guided listening, video and score study. Course materials (handouts, links to online videos etc.) will be shared via Google Classroom.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
If using a tablet it will need a screen large enough for you to comfortably view the class handouts.
You may also wish to follow up some of the reading and music discussed in class; links to these materials will be available online after the course.