Not the best L'Incoronazione Di Poppea, but a sexy and enthrallingly sung one
L'Incoronazione Di Poppea is a wonderful opera. For a while L'Orfeo was my favourite Monteverdi opera, but L'Incoronazione Di Poppea is daring and moving with gorgeous music. Whether I put this 2008 Glydebourne production in the same league as the Ponnelle, Cynthia Haymon and especially Maria Ewing performances I am not sure, but I found the production still to be entirely captivating.
Visually, while not a traditional performance, Poppea's costuming and rich red draperies give a very sexy feel to the production. Her scenes with Nerone do have that intimacy and sexual ambiguity as you would expect. The stage direction is mostly very effective, with two exceptions. Seneca's death seemed odd offstage to me. But least effective was the staging of Addio Roma, one of the opera's most moving moments but feels too much of a mere number here. However, there are some great moments, the best being when Lucan is drugged, stripped down and placed in a tub which I found a powerful, gripping and positively terrifying(almost having the impact of a Gothic horror) scene.
From a musical perspective, the production is superb. The orchestral playing is stylish and spacious, with various interesting textures ranging from wistful sparsity and harrowing fullness. Emmanuelle Haim's(you can absolutely tell by her manner and such that she loves the score) conducting is nuanced and elegantly shaped. There are no dull tempos but the intimacy of the opera is reflected in the quality of the musical values.
The performances are really exceptional. Alice Coote has a focused and very rich mezzo voice and she makes for a terrifying and quite edgy Nerone. Contrasting perfectly is the brightly tuned and simply radiant in all regards Poppea of Danielle De Neise. Andrew Tortoise sings with a lovely unstrained tenor voice, and you do feel Lucan's infatuation and nervousness. Tamara Mumford is still a moving Ottavia, even when the character is more shrewish than usual. Paolo Battaglia is a noble and sincere Seneca, though his basic vocal sound does come across as woolly in places. Christophe Dumaux is not as enthralling, lacking the sense of drama that Michael Chance brought to the role, though his scene proceeding Nerone's forgiveness is poignant and he does sing beautifully.
Marie Arnet has a gorgeous voice, and like De Neise she is radiant to watch as Drusilla. The Amore of Amy Freston is very commandingly delivered, helped by the most interesting touch of the production to have it run almost like a show run by Amore himself. Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke's Arnalta is somewhat absurd but also endearing, while Dominique Visse in a more secretarial sort of role is both goofy and elegant with some genuinely funny moments.
On the whole, sexy, moving and enthrallingly sung. Not definitive but definitely worth watching. 9/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this