Agrippina – a portrayal of lust and power set in first century Rome – was first performed in December 1709 at the Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo, Venice. This "arrangement" by John Eliot Gardiner was recorded in 1991/2 in London and has now been re-released. It was Handel's second and last opera to be composed during his time in Italy, from 1706 to 1710. Written against some resistance (the composer at first saw "no good reason" to write (such) an opera) in three weeks while in Venice, it represented the first such popular acclaim of Handel's career being performed over two dozen times in succession.
Agrippina (HWV 6) is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel with a libretto by Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani. Composed for the 1709–10 Venice Carnevale season, the opera tells the story of Agrippina, the mother of Nero, as she plots the downfall of the Roman Emperor Claudius and the installation of her son as emperor. Grimani's libretto, considered one of the best that Handel set, is an "anti-heroic satirical comedy", full of topical political allusions. Some analysts believe that it reflects Grimani's political and diplomatic rivalry with Pope Clement XI.
Agrippina is brilliant, early Handel. Composed when he was just twenty-four, it was his first big hit in the theatre. It’s full of his fresh, exuberantly inventive music and sets one of the finest librettos Handel worked with. This beautiful production, with an elegant and colorful staging, was recorded at the exquisite Rococo palace theatre in Schwetzingen, built in 1752.