An early baroque masterpiece, Monteverdi's L’incoronazione di Poppea was inspired by The Annals by Tacitus and celebrates the love of the emperor Nero and the courtesan Poppea. Filmed at the 2008 Glyndebourne Festival, Robert Carsen’s production brings together Danielle de Niese, Alice Coote and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the direction of Emmanuelle Haïm.
L’incoronazione di Poppea premiered during carnival season in Venice in 1643, but the story it tells is far from festive. It follows the rise to power of Poppea, the mistress of the emperor Nero, whose unbounded ambition eventually leads her to be crowned as empress at his side. The opera breaks literary traditions, centering its plot around a pair of morally compromised anti-heros, and features strikingly original music, filled with dissonance that strike even today’s audiences as modern.
In his staging of L’incoronazione di Poppea, director Robert Carsen created a stark world dominated by the visual metaphor of crimson drapes that decorate adulterous bedchambers and cloth sadistic tyrants. Stars Alice Coote and Danielle de Niese embody the bloody lovers Nero and Poppea with aplomb, supported by the Glyndebourne Chorus and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the baton of Emmanuelle Haïm.
Photo: Danielle de Niese © Mike Hoban