Opera past and present in guises old and new.
Marriott loses sight of the thing that really unites poetry and classical dance. In a word, form. Instead he plumbs for a degraded notion of both poetry and dance as a sopping wet melodrama of emotion - it’s the ‘let-it-all-hang-out-and-feel-my-pain’ school of art.
In many respects, Handel’s Agrippina becomes a woman’s opera under McVicar’s direction. The plot and its intricacies are driven by Agrippina (Part I) and Poppea (Part II). Power and cruelty, love and lust gravitate around Agrippina and Poppea respectively. McVicar’s staging is a symbiosis of musical and literary genres.
This is a opera that celebrates heroic failure; it’s not whether you win or lose, but the fact that you play the game. As Chou says ‘We fight, we die, and if we do not fight we die’. Nothing about either Adams’ opera or this ENO performance smacks of failure, however.