Those of you who enjoy Handel operas and look forward to their big set piece arias so typical of his style, may initially be disappointed with 'Agrippina' which is characterised by extensive recitative and short arias.The effect is to make this early Handel opera (it was first performed in 1709 in Venice ) more of a music drama than many of his later ones which I find less than convincing dramatically. Whilst the music has the Handel stamp all over it, 'Agrippina' can be seen as the summation of the 17th century Monteverdi/Cavalli operatic tradition. The arias are all uniformly of a high standard with Ottone's (Michael Chance) 'Voi che udite il mio lamento' (CD2 Track 12) being particularly outstanding. Gardiner keeps the long sections of recitative moving swiftly helped by an excellent libretto and storyline with characters familiar to many listeners from Roman history and indeed, other operas. Because the arias are shorter than we normally expect with Handel, I find they made more of an impact. Some are accompanied by the continuo instruments only, others by the full orchestra. The playing and singing on the 3 CDs is exemplary. This is an outstanding Handel opera recording.