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S47 Ep23

GP at the Met: Agrippina

Premiere: 6/7/2020 | 00:00:30 | Closed Captioning Icon

Experience Handel’s black comedy of intrigue and impropriety in this production from David McVicar set in the present. Joyce DiDonato stars as the cunning title character with Harry Bicket at the baton.

About the Episode


Season 14 of Great Performances at the Met continues Sunday, June 7 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) Agrippina, with Handel’s black comedy of intrigue and impropriety. Joyce DiDonato stars as the power-hungry title character with Brenda Rae as Poppea, Kate Lindsey as Nerone, Matthew Rose as Claudio and Iestyn Davies as Ottone. Harry Bicket conducts.

Set in present-day Rome, Sir David McVicar’s production begins as Emperor Claudio is due to return after the conquest of Britain. His wife, Empress Agrippina, secretly learns that his ship capsized in a storm and presumes that the emperor is dead. Upon hearing the news, Agrippina urges her son, Nerone, to win the people’s favor by doing good deeds around the city. To help her cause, she recruits two of Claudio’s freedmen, Pallante and Narciso, promising sexual favors to each one in return. Nerone’s charity work is successful with the people, and Pallante and Narciso acclaim him as the obvious successor to Claudio.

Later, Claudio’s servant, Lesbo, rushes in with the news that the emperor has been rescued by the Roman officer, Ottone, and has landed safely on the Italian shore. Agrippina and Nerone are dumbstruck when Ottone announces that Claudio has rewarded his valor by naming him as his successor. In private, Ottone confides to Agrippina that he loves another woman, Poppea, and asks Agrippina to intercede with her on his behalf. Agrippina knows that her husband is also pursuing Poppea and sees this as an opportunity to destroy Ottone. She overhears Lesbo telling Poppea that Claudio has already secretly entered the city to spend the night with her, rather than his wife. Poppea admits to herself that it’s Ottone she longs for, but Agrippina arrives and tells her that Ottone has betrayed her, giving her up to Claudio. Agrippina advises Poppea to seek revenge by refusing Claudio’s advances, accusing the jealous and possessive Ottone of standing in their way. Poppea does as she’s told when she meets with Claudio, who promises to punish Ottone.

Ottone proudly anticipates the announcement of his succession to the throne, but as Claudio officially enters the city and is congratulated on his conquest, he suddenly declares Ottone a traitor. Poppea’s uneasiness about her part in Ottone’s downfall torments her. Ottone unexpectedly enters and Poppea hides, pretending to be asleep when he discovers her. Later, while sleepwalking, Poppea reveals Agrippina’s plot and accuses Ottone of infidelity. Ottone defends himself and Poppea realizes that Agrippina has deceived her. Poppea tells Ottone to visit her later and begins to plot her revenge on Agrippina. Meanwhile, a fearful Agrippina worries that Pallante and Narciso will betray her, Poppea will see through her lies and Ottone may still be a threat to Nerone’s seat on the throne. Deborah Voigt hosts.

Short Listing

Experience Handel’s black comedy in this contemporary production starring Joyce DiDonato.

 Long Listing

Experience Handel’s black comedy of intrigue and impropriety in this production from David McVicar set in present-day Rome. Joyce DiDonato stars as the cunning title character with Harry Bicket at the baton.


National premiere: Sunday, June 7 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

New York metro area premiere: Sunday, June 14 a 12 p.m. on THIRTEEN

Notable Talent

  • Joyce DiDonato Agrippina
  • Brenda Rae – Poppea
  • Iestyn DaviesOttone
  • Kate Lindsey – Nerone
  • Matthew Rose – Claudio
  • Duncan Rock – Pallante
  • Nicholas Tamagna – Narciso
  • Christian Zaremba– Lesbo
  • Deborah Voigt – Host

 Run time: 3.5 hours

Production Credits

  • Henry Bicket – Conductor
  • Gary Halvorson – Director
  • Sir David McVicar – Production
  • Andrew George – Choreographer
  • John Macfarlane – Set and Costume Designer
  • Paule Constable – Lighting Designer

For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. Tim Martyn is Music Producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.


Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. This Great Performances at the Met presentation is funded by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation and public television viewers.

Series Overview

Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, bringing the best of the Metropolitan Opera into the homes of classical music fans across the United States.

Websites:,, @GPerfPBS, #GreatPerformancesPBS

About the Met

Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Metropolitan Opera is one of America’s leading performing arts organizations and a vibrant home for the world’s most creative and talented artists, including singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. The company presents more than 200 performances each season of a wide variety of operas, ranging from early masterpieces to contemporary works. In recent years, the Met has launched many initiatives designed to make opera more accessible, most prominently the Live in HD series of cinema transmissions, which dramatically expands the Met audience by allowing select performances to be seen in more than 2,200 theaters in more than 70 countries around the world.


Meet the ruthless empress, Agrippina.

♪ Agrippina ♪ Plotting against her emperor husband, his lover, and her lover, to make sure her no-good son ascends to the throne in Handel's biting satire of sexual politics.

♪ Agrippina ♪ ♪ Like a ship in a storm, I hope to reach safe harbor ♪ Don't miss the brilliant Joyce DiDonato and a virtuoso cast, when the scheming Agrippina comes to 'Great Performances at the Met.'


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