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  • Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne [DVD] [2004] [2001]
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Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne [DVD] [2004] [2001]

2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: Classical, PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: CLASSICAL
  • DVD Release Date: 26 April 2004
  • Run Time: 149 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00019HP1M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,025 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Sir Peter Hall created this production of Monteverdi's sensuous masterpiece for Glyndebourne Festival Opera's 50th Anniversary season in 1984. L'Incoronazione di Poppea, first seen in Glyndebourne in 1962, was the first Baroque opera to be performed there and has been an important influence on the renewed current interest in early opera.

American soprano Maria Ewing gives a voluptous portrayal of the scheming Poppea, with Dennis Bailey as Nero and Robert Lloyd outstanding as the philosopher Seneca.

Cast: Poppea -- Maria Ewing
Nerone -- Dennis Bailey
Robert Lloyd -- Seneca
Drusilla -- Elizabeth Gale
Arnalta -- Anne-Marie Owens
The Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchesta
Conducted by Raymond Leppard


Peter Hall's lavishly staged L'Incoronazione di Poppea celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Glyndebourne in 1984 with a performance of Monteverdi's most celebrated and also most controversial opera. The score is conductor Raymond Leppard's "enhanced" edition, which he had premiered at Glyndebourne back in 1962, fully scored for a large orchestra. Much debate circles around the forces appropriate for performing Monteverdi's decidedly minimalist work, but one thing at least is certain: it didn't sound anything like this in the 17th century! Never mind, however inauthentic it may be, Leppard's big and beefy orchestral updating--including a fulsome continuo group with pairs of harpsichords, organs and cellos, as well as lute, guitar and harp--supports the weighty melodrama nicely.

The singers, too, are full-bodied, led by a fruity Maria Ewing as Poppea (in various revealing outfits) sounding suitably seductive, and Dennis Bailey, oddly lovely of voice as Nero (one of the opera's controversial aspects is the heroic central role accorded to these two thoroughly wicked characters). Perhaps best of all is Robert Lloyd as Seneca, who not only boasts a profound, reverberant bass, but also looks the part under beard and toga. With an onstage chorus to lament him, Seneca's death scene is the most moving in the opera. Peter Hall's clever staging keeps the Olympians--Love, Fortune and Virtue--permanently watching from above as the venal humans below act out this tragedy of poisoned love. The no-frills DVD has subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish. --Mark Walker

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. P. Wilkinson on 27 July 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful production of this great Opera. I do prefer these old fashioned productions rather than these modern rubbish ones. This is set in the right era with correct costumes and sets and I would recommend it to all Opera lovers. The cast is excellent and it is a spell binding production and well worth it, it also came quickly and was a good price to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. Zaneres on 23 April 2014
Format: DVD
The sound quality is excellent, but if it is picture quality that is important to you, bear in mind it is 1984, and the picture is grainy.
The opening prologue is in the heavens which are in the upper perimeters of the stage. Up here the gods argue their respective merits, and keep an eye on the mortals, and even interfere with earthly events. Very effective.
Down on earth Dale Duesing as Ottone is a warm baritone, with a very pleasant tone. The guards who have a number of small singing roles are also very good.
Maria Ewing is absolutely terrific, she does seem to have the skill to get totally inside her character, and her voice throughout her range is brilliant
Dennis Bailey acts a good part as Nero, his tone and vibrato are not quite to my liking, but this is purely personal taste. I did find that the further into the production I got the less I noticed this.
Even more pleasure aurally is from mezzo Cynthia Clarey. A sad and haunting performance from a beautiful lady.
The front line is completed by Robert Lloyd as Senenca and Elizabeth Gale as Drusilla, perfect casting.
There are a number of set changes, and each is appropriate,so much so that one hardly notices, they look so right.
The chorus are in fine form, and both they, the soloists and orchestra are well balanced throughout.
There are some excellent support singers, and one small gripe is they are not credited on the sleeve. There is no booklet or programme bit synopsis and chapters on the sleeve.
If you want to find out who portrays the goddesses, roman guards and other important but well sung minor roles then wait until the end credits.
To summarize this production is traditional in set and costume, well acted and sung, and is an absolute pleasure.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A stunning production on all levels! 8 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Maria Ewing is at her best! This production is profound, well sung and well acted. Naturally, the music and sound quality are also wonderful. Opera fans and novices alike will marvel at this Glyndebourne Festival Opera performance. See the Roman Emperor Nero and his equally amoral lover, the seductive Poppea, as they tread upon all that is Good. Even the just philosopher Seneca cannot escape their evil machinations. A must-see for classicists, historians, opera fans and anyone else who enjoys high quality theatrical performance. The brief introduction and excellent subtitles help in making this production an unforgettable opera experience.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
a voice teacher and early music fan 11 April 2009
By George Peabody - Published on
Format: DVD
Almost four decades before creating his Poppea, Monteverdi wrote in the preface of his fifth book of madrigals: "The modern composer must create works solely on the basis of the truth"-a credo to which the music of his final opera is utterly faithful. 'L'incoronazione di Poppea' is a potent work from opera's first true creator and pioneering genius.

Even after three centuries, the music of Monteverdi glows with the passionate genius of a musical prophet. He was far ahead of his day in his conception of music as a dramatic, expressive art and in the realization of that conception.

He spurned the dry recitativos common to the opera of the day and instead gave the singers lovely melodies to sing. Short song-like passages were also included in the orchestral score. This opera demonstrates well these traits of Monteverdi. EXAMPLE: the enchanting melody that recurs in Drusilla's song that I call her 'happy' tune because she sings it first after Ottone tells her that he desires her instead of Poppea; unfortunately not true, but for the moment she believes it. There are several tuneful melodies that become asociated with specific characters.

The entire production is well done, and the specific characters perform with vigor and vitality and mega drama. The cast includes: Cynthia Haymon (Poppea)gives an exciting portrayal in her role as the 'greedy' gal who wants to become Empress at any cost to anybody. Brigitte Balleys in a 'pants' role of Nerone does it well, but I must confess I am 'put off' by most 'pants' roles (forgive me please); Michael Chance in the role of Ottone, Poppea's rejected suitor, provides us with an excellent portrayal of the rejected and angry lover; Seneca played by the 'booming' voice of Harry van der Kamp (love that voice)is full of himself as the advisor to Nerone; a sweet-voiced Heidi Grant Murphy plays her role (Drusilla) as the dedicated follower of Ottone. Ning Liang in the role of the Empress, who is about to be discarded, is truly magnificent with her rich resonant voice, handles all of her many moods (anger, revenge, despair, hatred, bullying) with finesse. All the singers are skilled and experienced in this genre, and it shows!

Monteverdi's timeless masterpiece, which creates a deep involvement in performers and audiences alike, is brilliantly captured in this High Definition LIVE recording of Pierre Audi's moving and beautifully styled production from Amsterdam in 1994. Sung in Italian with English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles, it also includes an illustrated synopsis, cast gallery and introduction. Picture and sound par excellence.

The youth and vitality that shines forth throughout this opera is remarkable, emanating as they do from a seventy-four year old churchmen.

SUNDAY TIMES: "Amsterdam has a model opera company: fresh, controversial and accessible...this Poppea is a quality product of self-evidently world class distinction.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Musical Machiavelli? 19 Sept. 2011
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format: DVD
[This is a reprise of my older review of an edition this production.]

Few if any operas have ever combined such sublime music with such a profoundly philosophical libretto. For that reason, few operas cry out so urgently for meaningful staging and effective acting, as well as for superb musical values. This production by Les Talens Lyriques, directed by Christophe Rousset, achieves 100% musically and a quite sufficient 85% dramatically.

Poppea is a study in moral ambiguity, and every character in every scene contributes something to the unsettling of our moral expectations. Nerone is either an effective tyrant or a lewd fool. Ottavia is either a spurned faithful wife or a vengeful fury. Ottone is either a weakling love-sick puppy or a shrewd opportunist. Seneca is either the ideal Renaissance stoic or a fatuous sycophant. And Poppea? As totally she she seems to triumph in her incoronation, the audience of Monteverdi's time would have known their Roman history well enough to realize that in a few short years Nerone would repudiate her and stomp her to death with his lead-soled sandals. They'd also recall that Ottone survived Nerone to become one of the four ephemeral emperors in the Year of Four Emperors; he was no moral paragon, even by Roman standards. Nerone and Poppea are despicable humans for two and a half acts of the opera, and then sing the most sublime, heart-wrenching, convincing love duet in all of music!

The cast for this performance includes a fair share of the best baroque singers alive, even in the smaller roles, Sandrine Piau for instance singing Damigella and Dominique Visse the comic-relief role of the Nurse. There are no weak spots in this cast vocally. My only reservation is dramatic; the casting of Brigitte Balleys as Nerone seems to restrict the conviction with which the character can be portrayed. I would rather have watched a countertenor - Philippe Jaroussky or Gerard Lesne, for instance - toss off Nerone's arrogant tantrums. On the other hand, Harry van der Kamp as Seneca is brilliant casting. Seneca's death scene is, along with the concluding duet, the musical and dramatic core of the opera, and van der Kamp dies splendidly.

The instrumental ensemble is, if anything, even closer to absolute perfection than the vocal cast. Two cornettos, two recorders, three violins and two violas entwine their florid wreaths of melody around the recitativos of Giovanni Busenello's poetic libretto. Since most of the opera is in fact recitativo rather than da capo aria, the color and character of the basso continuo is supremely important, and Les Talens Lyriques doesn't scant a note. The continuo includes organ, harpsichord, lute, theorbo, harp, cello, violone, and viola da gamba, an amazing panoply of timbres.

I saw and heard the Los Angeles Opera performance of this same production, and the disappointments of that occasion make it even clearer to me how excellent the original in Amsterdam was. The opera was cut in LA; particularly the part of Seneca was stupidly truncated. The cornetto obbligatos were re-assigned to the violins, and the continuo was not nearly as varied. All significant mistakes! This opera is too tightly constructed to be cut in any fashion. And to do it without cornettos is being criminally stingy!

Les Talens Lyriques has also produced a breathtaking performance on DVD of Monteverdi's Orfeo, which I've reviewed previously. Now there is a box set of Christophe Rousset's stagings of Monteverdi's three operas, plus the operatic madrigal Tancredi e Clorinda. Truly we live in glorious musical times!

[However, there is another DVD of Poppea, conducted by Emanuelle Haim and starring Daniela de Niese, which is equally successful musically and better in stagecraft:
Claudio Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea
... and, with any luck, sometime soon we'll have a performance by Les Arts Florissantes to complete William's Christie's Monteverdi Trinity:
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria
L' Orfeo
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nero Meets Alice in Wonderland 1 May 2011
By D. DEGEORGE - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Alice in Wonderland" because of the somewhat outlandish costumes, which can be praised for creativity and whimsy, but maybe this was not the place for comedy, intended or otherwise.

But to get to my review proper, I'd call this a competent, well-executed, and energetic production, which could have been much more.

In general, the cast may have overachieved in a way--everything seemed forced: the singing unnecessarily harsh, the acting hamfisted. Audi's direction resulted in a stilted and melodramatic performance. I tried to view the concept of this production as essentially not that different from opera in general; it is art after all, in which stylization rather than reality is a perfectly legitimate component. But in the final analysis I just couldn't buy it. For one thing, unlike many operas that are built on plots that are really silly to the core, this one had both a serious subject and a thoughtful libretto; it deserves a more believable staging and performance.

The creative forces for this production apparently decided to emphasize Nero's power and self-indulgence--perfectly valid, but I think at odds with the music. Back in the 1970s I saw a much more convincing performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., starring Alan Titus, the same tenor as in Bernstein's Mass. He and his leading lady were believable as a young couple in passionate love, something that I believe the languorous and hypnotic quality of Monteverdi's music supports.

In the production on this disc Brigitte Balleys, a mezzo, plays Nerone--not the typical "trouser role," which usually has a woman playing a youthful male, but in this case a more mature male, and a tyrant at that. This is a difficult act to pull off, and I suppose Balleys does a more convincing job, especially of looking tough, than many others might. As if to even things up gender-bending-wise, we have a man, Michael Chance, playing a young man (Ottone), but in the feminine voice of a counter-tenor, which would have been fine except that he doesn't really look the part. (Maybe someone more androgynous in appearance would have been better.) Once again, I find myself trying to apologize for this production: after all, these are Baroque operatic traditions in which I delight; but somehow they just didn't work for me here.

Cynthia Haymon brought sweetness and beauty to the role of Poppea, especially welcome in the otherwise rather barren feel of this production; but even with these qualities she lacked the degree of sensuousness and presence that I would like to have seen in the title role.

Besides the general failure of this production to "speak to me," I noted two specific problems:

(1) There was inconsistency in the use of vibrato by some of the singers. Switching from vibrato to white vocal production and back can be an effective expressive device, but in this production I could find no rhyme nor reason in the timing of when the respective colors were employed.

(2) There was unfortunate microphone placement. The orchestra was very close to the stage, and original instruments tend to be a bit underpowered, so the microphones had to be sensitive, and in the process picked up a distracting amount of thumping from the galumphing of the performers on stage.

The niche audience for this disc is those who delight in the arcane and the highly stylized; and this original-instrument, historically informed performance is easily competent enough to satisfy them. The music and timeless truths of this opera deserve a broader audience, however; and I think a more naturalistic acting style, perhaps substituting an actual male to sing Nero, would have wider appeal and more nearly give this glorious music its due. For those who share my preferences in this regard, I'd suggest passing on this, and hope for something more satisfying to come along. In the meantime, get a good CD like Harnoncourt's, and let your imagination provide the visual detail.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This should be in every opera fans library. 20 Feb. 2007
By Carmina - Published on
Maria Ewing is a friend of mine. I have always been thrilled by her performances. This performance is no different. She is stunning as is the entire cast and production. This should be in every opera fans library. But, more importantly, this DVD would be a great tool to turn new fans on to opera and how exciting and informative it can be when done correctly! Brava and Bravo!!!
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