While the Maria Ewing and Cynthia Hayman performances are my personal favourites of L'Incoronazione Di Poppea(a truly remarkable opera), this 2000 production is still excellent. I wasn't really all that enthralled with the costumes, Nerone's was perhaps too feminine and the rest rather basic and gaudy. However, while not exactly authentic or beautiful the sets are more convincing, and the quality of the sound, picture and video directing are spot-on. As are the musical values, with the orchestral playing always rich, incisive and beautifully blended in the many exposed parts. Marc Minkowski conducts with good understanding of Monteverdi's style, intimate and never too broad or plodding.
The staging captures the sardonic irony, liveliness and poignancy of the opera very well indeed. And the performances are very impressive across the board. Ann Sofie Von Otter sings firmly and is wonderfully spoilt as Nerone. Mireille Delunsch is an elegantly seductive and vocally glamorous Poppea. Charlotte Hellekant may take some getting used to, in a role usually sung by a countertenor(I do prefer Michael Chance in this role), as Ottone, but nonetheless gives a riveting performance with a voice of both darkness and purity. Ottavia is movingly sung by Sylvie Brunet, and while Denis Sedov is perhaps a little young for Seneca he still sings with resonance and has a commanding presence. Jean-Paul Fouchécourt is a witty and graceful Armalta, and while I personally would've preferred a lighter sound Nicole Heaston still sings with pathos as Drusilla.
All in all, an excellent performance. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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