King Xerxes (Valer Sabadus) admires his favourite plane tree as he rests under its beloved and sweetly treasured shade. Originally written for a castrato, ‘Ombra mai fu’ is now one of the most popular arias in the countertenor repertoire.
Act I. Amastre, a foreign princess who was promised to marry Xerxes, has disguised herself as a soldier in his army. She watches him as he receives Ariodate (Torben Jürgens) returning victorious from a campaign. Xerxes announces that he will reward the commander by having Romilda marry a man equal in rank to the King himself. Conducted by Konrad Junghänel, directed by Stefan Herheim.
Disguised as a flower seller in order to deliver his master’s message, Elviro (Hagen Matzeit) makes clear his disapproval of the King’s desire to marry Romilda, a mere subject. Princess Amastre (Katarina Bradic), in her disguise as a man, hears Elviro expressing this and she is aghast at the King's plan to marry another when he promised to be hers.
Agrippina (Anna Bonitatibus) wants Nerone, her son from a previous marriage, to accede to the throne now that Claudio, her husband, has apparently drowned at sea. While a political storm brews in Rome, she remains calm, confident that her deceitful plan will work. Conducted by Robert Howarth and directed by Walter Sutcliffe.
The character of Piacere (Nina van Essen) in Handel’s oratorio Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno has dedicated herself to forbidden pleasure.
In this extract, ‘Lascia la spina’, she sings about admiring the beauty of roses and not destroying that image with the thought of thorns. Her aria is echoed by La Bellezza (Sarah Brady) and Il Disinganno (Nicholas Tamagna). Like everything that became popular, Handel used this aria again and again without batting an eyelid; many people will know it as ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Rinaldo.
Act I. Ino understands the love that unites Jupiter and Semele (Nicole Chevalier). Cadmus announced the Semele's abduction by an eagle. Everyone mourns her disappearance. Semele appears from heaven, sighing with love for Jupiter. Conducted by Konrad Junghänel and directed by Barrie Kosky.
Poppaea (Stefanie True) has been falsely told that Otho will give her up in exchange for the throne. Her love for him starts to turn into fury and she promises to take revenge if the rumour turns out to be true. Conducted by Robert Howarth and directed by Walter Sutcliffe.
“Who can hope to escape” the Enchanted Palace? At the end of the first act, the sorcerer Atlante has trapped all the characters inside. Singers, dancers and musicians wander through the labyrinth whose doors open and close to the rhythm of Luigi Rossi's baroque music.
Il Palazzo incantato has not been performed since its premiere in 1642. Music director Leonardo García Alarcón and stage director Fabrice Murgia are breathing new life into a little-known work never before performed at the Dijon Opera.
Vagaus (Vasilisa Berzhanskaya), squire to Holofernes, announces that the general will soon arrive. He promises that though he is feared throughout the land, he is also charming and will treat Juditha well.
Juditha (Gaëlle Arquez) has been invited to dine with the general Holofernes. In this aria, she reassures her handmaid, Abra (Polly Leech) that everything will be fine so long as she trusts her and stays by her side.