- 05/23 Baritone Benjamin Appl signs to Sony Classical
- 05/19 UConn's top puppetry program collaborates with Boston Pops
- 05/17 Young Musician winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason is just what classical music needs
- 05/09 Facing the music: Paul Lewis
- 05/03 A Midsummer Night's Dream, Middle Temple Hall
- 04/29 ENO appoints new artistic director
- 04/26 Esa-Pekka Salonen Brings His Cool to New York’s Music Scene
- 04/17 Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music by Anna Beer – review
- 04/10 CSO’s Young Artist Competition highlights classical music talent
- 04/02 Classical music’s forgotten women
- ♬ Special Note: Studying a Virtuoso Violinist's Brain with MRI
- 03/14 Composer Peter Maxwell Davies dies aged 81
- 03/06 Nikolaus Harnoncourt obituary
- ♬ Special Note: How Chapel Hill Violinist Jennifer Curtis Became a New Master of Romanian Composer George Enescu's Music
- 02/22 " My horn died recently. The metal wore too thin and it lost its resonance. I feel like a widow."
- 02/16 Celebrating the Life of Cleveland Orchestra conductor Louis Lane (1923-2016)
- ♬ Special Note: Playing it forward: Norman Johns
- 02/10 North Carolina teacher wins Grammy Music Educator Award
- 02/04 Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla to be new Music Director for City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
- 02/03 HIP Festival Aims to Rediscover Forgotten Symphonies
- 02/02 Renée Fleming: 'Live cinema is a threat to opera'
- 01/29 Gustavo Dudamel and Youth Orchestra L.A.'s Super Bowl halftime show
- 01/27 New York Philharmonic Taps Jaap van Zweden as Its Next Maestro
- 01/25 Nigel Kennedy, The New Four Seasons tour
- 01/21 Live: Suspense and tragedy with the North Carolina Symphony
- 01/15 Six of the best classical guitarists
- 01/12 Pierre Boulez: 'He was one of the naughtiest of great artists'
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Our final Opera House performance in May is George Frideric Handel's Agrippina – a portrayal of lust and power set in first century Rome. Premiered in December 1709 at Venice's Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo, it was Handel's second (and last) opera to be composed during his time in Italy.. Agrippina's libretto is by Cardinal Grimani (1652?- 1710) and is generally considered one of the best Handel ever had. Not only because it's so close in accuracy historically to the events on which it's based, but also because of the sensitive insights into human nature that it contains.
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Agrippina (mezzo-soprano Della Jones), wife of the Roman emperor Claudius (bass Alastair Miles), gets word that her husband has been killed at sea. She seizes the opportunity to advance her son Nero (countertenor Derek Lee Ragin) to the throne. After advising Nero on how to become popular with the Roman public, Agrippina starts manipulating the people around her. First, she promises two different men — Pallante (baritone George Mosley) and Narcissus (countertenor Jonathan Peter Kenny) — that she'll marry them, as long as they throw their political support to Nero. But just as Nero is about to crown himself emperor, a troublesome messenger shows up, reporting that Claudius wasn't killed after all.
A soldier named Ottone (countertenor Michael Chance) tells the harrowing story, adding that Claudius promised to name him the next emperor in exchange for saving his life. Ottone tells Agrippina he'd be happy to forget about that promise, if only he can have the woman he loves, Poppea (soprano Donna Brown) — who happens to be Claudius's mistress. Agrippina lies to everyone, stirs up their jealousy, and urges them all to take revenge. When Claudius returns, she thwarts his attempted lovemaking with Poppea.
Pallante and Narcissus form an alliance. In a public ceremony, Claudius celebrates his return from battle. Ottone steps forward to claim his promised reward, but Claudius unexpectedly denounces him as a traitor. One by one, Ottone's friends turn their backs on him, leaving him alone and bewildered. Only Poppea takes pity on Ottone. She's long suspected that Agrippina is behind all this, and when she finds out she's right, she decides to get even. Meanwhile, Agrippina plots with Pallante to murder Ottone and Narcissus — and with Narcissus to murder Ottone and Pallante! She tells Claudius that Ottone wants revenge for his loss of the throne, and urges him to anoint Nero as his successor. Claudius is preoccupied with resuming his assignation with Poppea, so he absentmindedly agrees.
One by one, Poppea invites Ottone, Nero and Claudius into her room, while telling each man to hide and eavesdrop before the other comes in. Ottone swears eternal fidelity to Poppea; Claudius turns the tables on Agrippina, accusing her of treachery; and Agrippina provokes Claudius by revealing that Poppea has been fooling around with Ottone. Only Narcissus and Pallante somehow manage to keep themselves out of trouble.
Claudius suddenly announces that Nero won't be the next emperor after all. Instead, he decides to make Ottone his successor, and let Nero marry Poppea. Nero even declares that having a new wife, but no empire, is a double punishment. So, Claudius changes his mind. He says Poppea will marry Ottone instead of Nero, and Nero will become emperor. Finally, everyone seems satisfied. It seems the internal battles are over, and Rome is once again in stable hands — at least for now.
John Eliot Gardiner conducts the English Baroque Soloists in this 1992 recording.
French soprano Véronique Gens (as Agrippina) sings "Ogni vento," a delightful song of joy over having just extracted a hurried promise from husband Emperor Claudius to pass on the laurel crown to her son, Nero. Jean-Claude Malgoire conducts Le Grande Ecurie and the Chambre du Roy:
Join me next Tuesday, June 2nd, for Mikhail Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmila. one of the landmarks in the history of Russian opera. Taras Shtonda and Ekaterina Morozova sing the title roles in this sprawling fairy tale. Other principals include Maria Gavrilova (Gorislava), Alexandra Durseneva (Ratmir), Irina Dolzhenko (Naina), Vitaly Panfilov (Finn), Maxim Paster (Bayan), Vadim Lynkovsky (Svetosar), and Valery Gilmanov (Farlaf). Alexander Vedernikov conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre in this 2003 recording.
The WCPE Opera House is heard every Thursday evening at 7 o’clock in the Eastern time zone on 89.7 FM in central North Carolina, and we’re streamed Live online at on our Internet page or you can listen on WCPE's Android or iPhone apps.
— W. Robert Chapman, Host of the WCPE Opera House
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TheClassicalStation.org announces weekly commentaries during Great Sacred Music. Host Rob Kennedy programs a mix of sacred choral and organ music for the program which airs each Sunday from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.
When your contribution is at least $50.00, you may, in lieu of choosing a gift, designate that 10% of your donation go toward the WCPE Education Fund . Please check the appropriate box in the Secure Pledge Form!
An astute listener caught our esteemed Announcer Dick Storck in a rare error recently, referring to the "Doughnut Button".
As they say, much hilarity ensued.
Thank you, 'Astute Listener', and thank you for all the laughs you've given us these past days, and THANK YOU for Supporting Great Classical Music here at WCPE!
WCPE FM, The Classical Station, announces five grants totaling more than $8,000 from its WCPE Education Fund for the 2015–16 season.
The Metropolitan Opera Announces the 2015-16 Season
The Met’s 2015-16 Season Will Feature 26 Operas, Including Three Met Premieres, In Six New Productions and 18 Revivals!
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