Saturday, March 5, 2011

Monteverdi - L'Incoronazione di Poppea – Gardiner,English Baroque Soloists







Monteverdi's final opera really is a masterpiece, but its libretto requires close attention--this is not an opera for casual listeners. There is no ideal recording of Poppea currently available--Gardiner's version, while flawed, has many admirable qualities. Sylvia McNair is a gorgeous, sensuous Poppea; Dana Hanchard is the finest Nero on record--her soprano expresses the role's capricious willfulness without having to shout the top notes; Catherine Bott is a particularly fine Drusilla. Much of the rest of the cast sounds uncomfortable with Monteverdi and sings far too operatically--the most unfortunate performance in this respect is from the great Anne Sofie Von Otter, whose stentorian Ottavia overwhelms Monteverdi's lightly scored music. Still, this recording's many fine points make it worthwhile listening. --Matthew Westphal 

Performed by English Baroque Soloists
with Peter Holman, Francesco Ellero D'Artegna, Bernarda Fink, Julian Clarkson, Constanze Backes, Sylvia McNair, Dana Hanchard, Noel Mann, Mark Tucker, Catherine Bott
Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner


flac, covers


  1. Yes, this is really masterpiece. This opera was the first which I played the piano, because in my home was the vocal score of it - published in former Soviet Union in the year 1974 - with Italian and Russian text (after Malipiero's edition, with supplementary harmonics notes). I remember now with smile, how hardly I had formed first opening A-minor accord of the prologue - three notes with right hand and one with left - I was only seven years old and it was my first acquaintance with music. But I knew neither Italian nor Russian then, and such open (in 1642! libretto) Poppea's question for Nerone in the Act I, Scene 10: "Di questo, di questo seno i...i...i pomi?" didn't matter anything for me then, I just had read these magic unknown words literally during playing music.

  2. Sweet! I can really picture little Andrius at the piano. Discovering music. Very nice memory...


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