On his military campaign abroad, an eccentric king is more concerned with conquering women than land. He always gets his way, until one day he falls for his brother’s secret lover. Xerxes’ tactics, which he changes as often as his opulent costumes, allow his opponents little time to rest. This results in a ‘baroque Muppet Show,’ as the celebrated Norwegian director Stefan Herheim describes his spectacular stage production. After a bewildering series of games of love and intrigue, Handel’s opera ends with the insight that life is a theatre in which one cannot always choose one’s own role.