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Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea [Box set]

Nikolaus Harnoncourt Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £8.83 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea + Monteverdi Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria + Monteverdi - L'Orfeo
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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Feb 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B001OBVA3A
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,368 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Prologue ""Deh, nasconditi, o virtý"" [Fortuna, Virtý, Amore]"
2. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""E pure io torno qui"" [Ottone, 2 Soldiers]"
3. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Chi parla"" [2 Soldiers]"
4. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Signor, deh, non partire"" [Poppea, Nerone]"
5. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Speranza tu mi vai"" [Poppea, Arnalta]"
6. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Disprezzata Regina"" [Ottavia, Nutrice]"
See all 10 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Come dolci, Signor"" [Poppea, Nerone, Ottone]"
2. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Ad altri tocca in sorte"" [Ottone, Poppea, Arnalta]"
3. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Otton torna in te stesso"" [Ottone]"
4. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 1 ""Pur sempre con Poppea"" [Drusilla, Ottone]"
5. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Solitudine amata"" [Seneca, Mercurio]"
6. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Il comando tiranno"" [Liberto, Seneca]"
See all 12 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Io non so dov'io vada"" [Ottone, Drusilla]"
2. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Hor che Seneca Ť morto"" [Poppea, Arnalta]"
3. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Dorme, l'incauta dorme"" [Amore, Poppea]"
4. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Eccomi trasformato"" [Ottone, Amore, Poppea, Arnalta]"
5. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 2 ""Ho difesa Poppea"" [Amore]"
6. "Monteverdi : L'incoronazione di Poppea : Act 3 ""O felice Drusilla"" [Drusilla]"
See all 13 tracks on this disc

Product Description

3CD Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still swooningly sensuous 26 Jan 2013
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
If you are an opera lover unsure whether to venture beyond your sweet spot of late 18th and 19th Century works into earlier works by such as Monteverdi, father of the art form, I advise you to start here in the most unlikely place: with the final duet of the opera, "Put ti miro, pur ti godo"; its luscious suspensions and yearning eroticism are as sensual as anything by Puccini.

Nearly forty years since it was made, this recording wears extraordinarily well. The main objection to it by modern purists is that Harnoncourt filled out orchestral parts too much, though for novice especially the added richness of texture will probably be welcome even if some might demand leaner, sparer sounds. Otherwise it is wholly recommendable in that Harnoncourt took pains to ensure that authentic-sounding instruments were played in the correct style; furthermore, he assembled some outstanding solo voices ideally suited to this plangent, dignified, often surprisingly passionate music. Elisabeth Söderström sings beautifully while suggesting that Nero is always essentially unhinged; it is that central truth which lends such a delightful irony to that last duet; the Venetian audience would have been well aware of what happened next: Nero murdered his new wife, Rome burned and he committed suicide. Poppea's ex-husband Ottone succeeded as Emperor, albeit very briefly. Thus an opera performed in Venice satirises the moral depravity of its rival city-state Rome.

Monteverdi was concerned to depict the lives, lusts and lunacies of real people. Before I knew anything much about opera, I bought an EMI sampler and among the random treasures which caught my imagination was the vocal ensemble "Non morir, Seneca", here sung with great urgency and emotional sincerity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Value 1 Mar 2013
By LIZDOG
Verified Purchase
This is just good value for money and although not all on one disc which would be easily done the performance is great. I thought the notes a little light and would prefer more lyrics to sing along but unable to stop listening.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still swooningly sensuous 26 Jan 2013
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
If you are an opera lover unsure whether to venture beyond your sweet spot of late 18th and 19th Century works into earlier works by such as Monteverdi, father of the art form, I advise you to start here in the most unlikely place: with the final duet of the opera, "Put ti miro, pur ti godo"; its luscious suspensions and yearning eroticism are as sensual as anything by Puccini.

Nearly forty years since it was made, this recording wears extraordinarily well. The main objection to it by modern purists is that Harnoncourt filled out orchestral parts too much, though for novice especially the added richness of texture will probably be welcome even if some might demand leaner, sparer sounds. Otherwise it is wholly recommendable in that Harnoncourt took pains to ensure that authentic-sounding instruments were played in the correct style; furthermore, he assembled some outstanding solo voices ideally suited to this plangent, dignified, often surprisingly passionate music. Elisabeth Söderström sings beautifully while suggesting that Nero is always essentially unhinged; it is that central truth which lends such a delightful irony to that last duet; the Venetian audience would have been well aware of what happened next: Nero murdered his new wife, Rome burned and he committed suicide. Poppea's ex-husband Ottone succeeded as Emperor, albeit very briefly. Thus an opera performed in Venice satirises the moral depravity of its rival city-state Rome.

Monteverdi was concerned to depict the lives, lusts and lunacies of real people. Before I knew anything much about opera, I bought an EMI sampler and among the random treasures which caught my imagination was the vocal ensemble "Non morir, Seneca", here sung with great urgency and emotional sincerity. Poppea is exquisitely sung by the pure-voiced Helen Donath, a heroine and role-model to Renee Fleming for good reason. The large role of Ottone is handsomely sung by countertenor Paul Esswood in his prime, his voice warm and flexible. There are two fine basses in Enrico Fissore and Giancarlo Luccardi who sings a grave, noble Seneca. The supporting cast is excellent, featuring some distinguished names who had important solo careers: Cathy Berberian, Kurt Equiluz and Philip Langridge.

The only drawback to the bargain issue on "Das Alte Werk" is the absence of a libretto; otherwise this remains a highly recommendable version of Monteverdi's last and greatest work which has not really dated.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely excellent 13 Feb 2012
By Richard W. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
i remember all of harnoncourt's recordings from the old vinyl days - to me they are, like, say, solti's 'ring', recordings that defined a music for me. the cd version(s) are just as great. I can't wait until i can get the dvds.
4.0 out of 5 stars Harnoncourt delivers an engaging performance of Poppea but a thin recording 10 May 2013
By marcabru - Published on Amazon.com
Recordings of Monteverdi's great opera L'Incoronazione di Poppea grapple with more issues than do almost all other operas in the repertoire. The 3 main ones are a) 2 separate editions exist from Naples and Venice. The Venice edition was first but the Naples edition is a bit more complete and tracks the libretto more fully; b) the instrumental scoring (orchestration) was very sketchy. The orchestration is mostly written for continuo. While the basic instrumentation available then is known, it is not clear how the continuo was performed; c) the parts for Nerone and Ottone were intended for castrati soprano and alto men and therefore have to be sung by women or transposed down for tenor or baritone. The part for Nerone is particularly tough because Monteverdi wrote the part so that it intertwines melodically with Poppea's. However the soprano line was to be sung by a male castrato who did not sound like a woman and could maintain dramatic effectiveness. To use a woman is right musically but wrong dramatically while transposing it for a man is right dramatically but wrong musically. Another important point to remember is that Monteverdi wrote these operas when the Renaissance modal system was fading but before major minor tonality had been codified. The vocal line is somewhat looser, more relaxed and does not have the same tonal shape that it had for say Lully, Handel, and Rameau 50 to 75 years later. Therefore it is not stylistically good to sing it either as a Renaissance chanson or as Handelian or later opera.

Over the past 50 years conductors have adopted idiosyncratic solutions to these three issues in their recordings making the listener's choices quite confusing. I thought it might be useful to present a survey of the main recordings to help interested opera fans decide which recordings best fit their tastes. I have prepared a short summary of how each one handles the three issues noted plus a short review of each recording under its listing. In roughly chronological sequence they are: 1. Ewerhart 1962; 2. Pritchard 1963; 3. Curtis 1966; 4. Harnoncourt 1974; 5. Curtis 1978; 6. Rudel 1978; 7. Harnoncourt 1979; 8. Malgoire 1984; 9. Zedda 1988; 10. Hickox 1989; 11. Jacobs 1990; 12. Gardiner 1993; 13 Bolton 1997; 14. Cavina 2010.

Grouped by edition, Curtis 1966 and 1978, Malgoire, Gardiner and Cavina mostly or fully use Naples while the rest use Venice. Grouped by orchestration, Pritchard, Rudel, Zedda and to a lesser extent Harnoncourt modernize and thicken the scoring while the rest conform more to period practice. The performers of Nerone are tenors for Ewerhart, Pritchard, Rudel, Harnoncourt 1979 and Malgoire and a countertenor for Bolton. The remaining recordings had the part of Nerone sung by a woman.

More often than not Harnoncourt tends to the rhythmically forceful even driven side of performance style. Here however he is atypically flexible and gentle in his approach. This creates a more lovable performance, although it diminishes the drama a bit in consequence. (In his second recording of Poppea for a film with Tappy and Yakar as Nero and Poppea, Harnoncourt returned to his usual dramatic style.)The singers are quite excellent and mostly sing in an idiomatic style. Soderstrom and Berberian are a bit more high operatically inclined but they rein it in quite a bit. The other singers keep Monteverdi's lyrical arioso lines relaxed and well phrased. There is a bit of a dramatic oddity of Soderstrom's Nero sounding more womanly than the Poppea of Donath but this is the casting dilemma described above. Esswood is a light but lyrical countertenor Ottone.The one casting glitch is the boy soprano as Amore but quite frankly I am not an enthusiast of the whole Prologue anyway.

Harnoncourt came in for some criticism from the HIP advocates for embroidering the continuo beyond the bounds of what Monteverdi would have heard. While accurate, the departures are not that major and most listeners won't be bothered by it. Those who are more comfortable with high opera may welcome it. The continuo is certainly within the bounds of later Baroque practice and not romanticized as Karajan and others were wont to do.

The recording unfortunately is mediocre in the Teldec manner. At least on the LPs the instruments are recorded more consistently than the voices. In the Prologue and first scene the voices have a slight grainy edge to them and sound thin, which lessens in succeeding scenes until it evaporates by the second act. I have to assume they were adjusting mic'ing as they went. Depth of field also varies erratically for a studio recording, again probably a function of mic adjustment. At least the last 2/3 of the opera sounds clearer although not particularly rich sounding. Bass is quite limited. Not having heard the CD I don't know to what extent changes were made from the LP. In summary, a musically pleasing interpretation that still holds interest because of the effective singing. 4 or 4.5 stars depending how you feel about the recording.
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