Handel composed the opera Agrippina for the 1709–10 Venice Carnevale season, and it was a smashing success.
The opera tells the story of Agrippina, the mother of Nero, as she plots the downfall of the Roman Emperor Claudius so her son will become emperor. Upon hearing the news that Claudius has died in a storm at sea, Agrippina enlists the support of Pallas and Narcissus in her plot to secure the throne for Nero, her son by a previous marriage.
Otho, commander of the army, complicates the plot by saving Claudius, who promises him the throne in gratitude. He confides to Agrippina that he loves Poppea more than the throne, which gives Agrippina the leverage she needs to disgrace Otho in the eyes of Claudius and Poppea.
In this scene, Otho is devastated as Claudius denounces him as a traitor, and Agrippina, Poppea and Nero reject him, leaving him in despair. Four short arias are included here: “Cade il mondo soggiogato,” sung by Claudius, “Nulle sperar da me,” sung by Agrippina, “Tuo ben è 'l trono,” sung by Poppea, and “Sotto il lauro ch'hai sul crine,” sung by Nero.