the history of opera Claudio Monteverdi’s work represents the first
high point to fundamentally shape the genre: his opera Orfeo composed in
1607, is considered by many to be the first genuine opera ever written.
In 1613, he was given the post with the highest honor in the musical
world of that time: Kapellmeister at San Marco Cathedral in Venice. One
year before his death he wrote L’incoronazione di Poppea, which was
performed several times during the seventeenth century.
L’incoronazione di Poppea (SV 308, The Coronation of Poppea)
is an Italian opera by Claudio Monteverdi, with a libretto by Giovanni
Francesco Busenello, first performed at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e
Paolo in Venice during the 1643 carnival season. One of the first operas
to use historical events and people, it describes how Poppea, mistress
of the Roman emperor Nero, is able to achieve her ambition and be
crowned empress. The opera was revived in Naples in 1651, but was then
neglected until the rediscovery of the score in 1888, after which it
became the subject of scholarly attention in the late 19th and early
20th centuries. Since the 1960s, the opera has been performed and
recorded many times.
original manuscript of the score does not exist; two surviving copies
from the 1650s show significant differences from each other, and each
differs to some extent from the libretto. How much of the music is
actually Monteverdi’s, and how much the product of others, is a matter
of dispute. None of the existing versions of the libretto, printed or
manuscript, can be definitively tied to the first performance at the
Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the precise date of which is unknown.
Details of the original cast are few and largely speculative, and there
is no record of the opera’s initial public reception. Despite these
uncertainties, the work is generally accepted as part of the Monteverdi
operatic canon, his last and perhaps his greatest work.
a departure from traditional literary morality, it is the adulterous
liaison of Poppea and Nerone which wins the day, although this triumph
is demonstrated by history to have been transitory and hollow. In
Busenello’s version of the story all the major characters are morally
compromised. Written when the genre of opera was only a few decades old,
the music for L’incoronazione di Poppea has
been praised for its originality, its melody, and for its reflection of
the human attributes of its characters. The work helped to redefine the
boundaries of theatrical music and established Monteverdi as the
leading musical dramatist of his time.
Poppea: Laura Sanders
Nerone: Kameron Ghanavati
Arnalta: Carolena Lara
Ottavia: Therese Carmack
Drusilla: Sarah Korath
Ottone: Nathan Kessel
Seneca: Keith Klein