L'Incoronazione Di Poppea is a great opera, that moves me every time. I may prefer L'Orfeo, but Monteverdi's music here is so beautiful and the story is one of the more moving and intimate of any story in opera. This production is absolutely excellent, and the best of the three productions I've seen so far(the others being the 1979 Ponnelle and 1993 Schwetzinger performances). The costumes and sets are somewhat gloomy(appropriate though considering the opera) and traditional, and the staging is never dull, in fact the staging for Sento Un Certo Non So Che... is quite racy, even for that particular scene. The video directing is fine as is the sound, though some of the picture quality is grainy. The orchestra play the music beautifully and the conducting helps to convey the opera's intimacy without diluting the impact. Maria Ewing is the sexiest Poppea I've seen, and she acts movingly as well as singing like a nightingale. The other standout is Robert Lloyd's Seneca, a noble performance that is full of depth and resonant singing. The mezzo singing Arnalta has a beautiful voice also, likewise with Drusilla and Amore, while Sento Un Certo Non So Che...with Valetto and Damigella is full of flirtatious chemistry from both singers. Dennis Bailey plays Nerone with intensity if occasionally sounding hoarse, while Cynthia Clarey is a beautiful if a little thin vocally as Ottavia. Overall, an excellent production, not completely perfect, but still one of the better productions of any of Monteverdi's work I've seen yet, and any problems were not enough to mar the overall performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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