Although my personal favourite Monteverdi opera is L'Orfeo, I do love L'Incoronazione Di Poppea for its intimacy and wonderful music. I loved this production, Ponnelle's version from the 70s may have been more opulent but I loved this for its simplicity in the sets and camera work. The set is very effective, curved with divided screens and a minimal colour scheme, likewise with the camera work, which has a couple of close ups but mostly shot in long screen which helped with the opera's intimacy. The orchestra play beautifully with some nice stylistic touches, making sure that the music still has its effect even in the tiny theatre, and Rene Jacob's conducting is assured and sympathetic. The performances are consistently great, once you get used to the male/female swapping. Richard Croft shows a flexible voice and great technique and gives a Nerone that is athletic and sympathetic. Patricia Schumann is a passionate Poppea and sounds more than comfortable with her range. Ottavia is more harsh and less sympathetic than before, but Katherine Kuhlman still manages to give a moving performance. Henry Peter is a dignified Seneca, and Jeffrey Galt is excellent as Ottone. The costumes are sensual enough, the picture quality is good and the sound is adequate if not great.
All in all, a beautiful and well sung production. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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