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A Very Unusual Evening

Monteverdi's 'L'incoronazione di Poppea',
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN


Seventeenth-century operas are rarely staged these days. They are more than a hundred years older than the earliest commonly played works, so Los Angeles Opera's presentation of Claudio Monteverdi's 1643 opus, L'incoronazione di Poppea, was an important event. The first complete opera is thought by many to be Jacopo Peri's Eurydice. It was first performed in Florence at the marriage of Maria de Medici and Henri IV of France in 1600. At that time, Monteverdi was a court musician at Mantua and it is very possible that he accompanied his employer to the wedding.

David Daniels as Ottone in Los Angeles Opera's 'L'incoronazione di Poppea'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
David Daniels as Ottone in Los Angeles Opera's 'L'incoronazione di Poppea'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

Monteverdi's own setting of the Orpheus legend was premièred at Mantua in 1607. In 1613 he moved on to a better position as Director of Music for the Basilica of St Mark in Venice where he composed many different kinds of music over the forty years he held that position. Unfortunately, we do not have all of his compositions, but since we have his first opera and his last, we can see his immense artistic growth. L'incoronazione di Poppea was the fruit of his old age. When he was seventy-five years old, he wrote it for the carnival season that preceded Lent.

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Copyright © 24 December 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller