Press Room

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January 11, 2007
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.

ß Detailed staging by Virginia Opera veteran stage director Lillian Groag
ß Musically powerful face-off between two returning audience favorites: soprano Sujung Kim in the title role, and soprano Jane Redding as Poppea
ß Company debuts of countertenors David Walker and Jeffrey Mandelbaum, and Richmond local bass-baritone Matthew Burns

Fairfax, Virginia, January11, 2007— The curtain rises in Norfolk on Virginia Opera’s production of George Frideric Handel’s Agrippina on January 26, 2007 marking the first performance ever in Virginia for this classic comic opera. The engaging production, true to the composer’s vision, and featuring an ambitious cast and thoughtful staging, moves to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts for two performances: Friday, February 9 at 8PM and Sunday, February 11 at 2PM. Pre-performance discussions, free to ticketholders, are held 45-minutes prior to each curtain on the hall’s Grand Tier. Before the Friday evening performance, audiences are invited to a free wine and cheese tasting beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall lobby.
Empress Agrippina, wife of Claudius, was the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, first emperor of Rome; and sister to the infamously perverse Caligula. When Claudius is reported to have met his demise, Agrippina contrives to have her son, Nero, appointed to the throne. When the court discovers that Claudius did not die, a series of political and sexual imbroglios unfold.
The opera is, according to returning Stage Director Lillian Groag, “a satirical look at a seizure of power, all told in the span of one day and with all the high jinks of a French bedroom farce.” This is the fourth Virginia premiere Ms. Groag has directed for the company, following her staging of Elektra in 2001, Die Walküre in 2002, and Tristan & Isolde in 2005. In a review of New York City Opera’s 2002 Agrippina production directed by Ms. Groag, The New York Times wrote that she “helped the singers develop well-defined characters, sympathetic even in their scheming.”
“With two of our favorite leading ladies engaged in a fiery vocal contest of wills, combined with the unique voices of our two countertenors, and set amidst a finely-crafted staging by one of our most detail-oriented directors, Agrippina is bound to be the comedic success of our season,” says Virginia Opera Artistic Director Peter Mark, who conducts all performances.
Returning to Virginia Opera from her home in South Korea to perform the title role is soprano Sujung Kim, a veteran of the Handelian repertoire who starred in Virginia Opera productions of Julius Caesar (1997), Orfeo and Euridice (1999), Rodelinda (2000) and La Traviata (2001). Also returning, following her leading role last year as Susanna in Virginia Opera’s highly-acclaimed production of The Marriage Of Figaro, is soprano Jane Redding as Poppea – the palace beauty combating Agrippina’s schemes with her own clever ruses; returning tenor Jeffery Halili, last seen here as Gastone in La Traviata (2005), sings the role of Nero.
The debuts of countertenors David Walker as Ottone and Jeffrey Mandelbaum as Narciso mark a rare opportunity for Virginia audiences to hear male voices soaring into the soprano range as the pair fills roles that were, in the 1700s, sung by that era’s famed castrati. Also making his company debut as Pallante is bass-baritone Matthew Burns of Richmond, Virginia.
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Agrippina is sung in Italian with Digitext SuperTitles projected above the stage.

Tickets for the Virginia Opera production of Agrippina are $86, $72, $44 (Friday) and $90, $76, $48 (Sunday). Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K. Visit