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

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5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (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: 96,956 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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb staging and casting 23 April 2014
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) 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best opera on DVD 2 May 2004
By Barry D. Steben - Published on
In addition to a large collection of (mostly) Baroque operas on CD, I have over 75 operas on DVD, some in more than one version, as well Monteverdi's other two operas on DVD, which are also incredible. But this recording of L'Incoronazione di Poppea takes the cake, whether in terms of the beauty of the music, the effectiveness of the staging and costumes, the quality of the acting and singing of the principals, or even the dramatic and literary intensity of the story. The video recording is a little old, so the picture is slightly grainy, but the sound quality (though only in Dolby stereo) is incomparable, the production and conducting without peer. I am quite sure I will still feel the same after viewing it ten or fifteen times, though so far I have only watched it twice. This is a must-buy for any lover of Baroque music, and it is one of the operatic masterpieces of all time. It should be included in every course in the history of opera.
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular 2 April 2006
By Peter M. LaChapelle - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Glyndebourne Festival Opera made this a magnificent production of L'Incoronazione di Poppea. Even if you're not an avid opera fan, you will find that both the music of Monteverdi and the staging of the opera by Glyndebourne will enthrall you. If you also happen to be interested in foreign languages, you have the added bonus of subtitles in French, German and Spanish, not to mention English. This recording is really spectacular. I've only had it a month and I'm afraid I'm going to wear it out because I keep playing certain segments over and over again. You'll be glad you purchased this one for your collection, I assure you.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a voice teacher and early music fan 11 April 2009
By George Peabody - Published on
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.

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine production with several wonderful singers 25 Jan 2010
By Theodore Shulman - Published on
Maria Ewing is as beautiful and sexy as everyone says, but she is not the only attraction! Several of the supporting cast are equally fine. Now I don't have a complete cast list--there is nothing on the package saying who plays Poppea's nurse, Arnalta, but whoever she is she's an abundant, beautiful mezzo. The sopranos who sing Drusilla, the Damigella, and Amore are also wonderful, as are the supporting tenors, who play Nero's singing buddy ("Cantia-a-a-a-a-am!") and the Valetto. Best of all is Robert Lloyd, who sings Seneca with seemingly-limitless depth, and gives the character all his irritating mannerisms.

The weaknesses include Dennis Bailey's hoarse-sounding Nero, and Cynthia Clarey's thin Ottavia. Ottone is sung by a baritone rather than by the more traditional countertenor.

The sets and costumes are traditional, although the acting is unusually sexy for this period. It's not just Ewing; the flirtatious scene between the Valetto and Damigella ("Sento un certo non so che...") is quite racy.
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