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    L選ncoronazione di Poppea at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin, Germany

    L'Incoronazione di Poppea at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden - Berlin

    L'Incoronazione di Poppea, opera in one prologue and three acts, sung in Italian with German and English surtitles
    Libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello
    Premiered at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice during the 1643 carnival season

    This article is part of the Opera Lively coverage of opera houses in the German-speaking area of Central Europe in the Summer of 2018 - see the links to numerous other reviews, interviews, pictorial blogs, and other articles related to this coverage, by clicking [here]

    This is a new production of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin) that had its premiere on 17 December, 2017

    This review is of the performance on 12 July, 2018.

    AKADEMIE FワR ALTE MUSIK BERLIN conducted by Diego Fasolis

    PRODUCTION Eva-Maria Hckmayr
    SET DESIGNER Jens Kilian
    COSTUMES Julia Rsler
    LIGHT DESIGN Olaf Freese and Irene Selka
    DRAMATURGY Mark Schachtsiek and Roman Reeger

    Cast

    FORTUNA Niels Domdey (Soloist of the Children Chorus)
    FORTUNA, DAMIGELLA - Narine Yeghiyan
    VIRTル - Artina Kapreljan (Soloist of the Children Chorus)
    AMORE, VALLETTO - Lucia Cirillo
    AMORE - Noah Schurz (Soloist of the Children Chorus
    NERONE - Max Emanuel Cencic
    OTTAVIA - Katharina Kammerloher (Opera Lively interviewee)
    POPPEA - Roberta Mameli (Opera Lively interviewee)
    OTTONE - Xavier Sabata
    SENECA - Andrea Mastroni
    DRUSILLA - Evelin Novak
    LIBERTO, LUCANO - Gyula Orendt
    FIRST SOLDIER, LUCANO - Andr駸 Moreno Garca
    SECOND SOLDIER - Benjamin Popson
    TRIBUN - David Oštrek
    NUTRICE - Jochen Kowalski
    ARNALTA - Mark Milhofer


    The cast list last night was largely the same as that seen by Luiz Gazzolla in his review for the performance of 8 July - aside from a change in conductor. We heard Diego Fasolis in the pit (instead of Andrea Marchiol).

    As a reminder, the broad plot (thanks, Luiz!):

    Poppea Sabina, the most beautiful woman in Rome, wants nothing less than to be Empress at the side of Emperor Nerone. To this end, she uses all her seductive powers to persuade Nerone to assassinate his wife, Ottavia. When the imperial philosopher Seneca opposes this plan, he has to pay for it with his life. Meanwhile, Ottavia in turn incites the spurned and deceived Ottone to kill her power-hungry rival Poppea. However, the murder is thwarted in time: Ottavia is shunned and Poppea fulfils her plans, wishes and dreams.

    I did not see the Zrich performance directed by Calixto Bieito, so do not have that as a point of reference in writing this review. What I heard was some of the most sublime singing I‘ve heard in a long time. One lovely, expertly sung aria after another. What I saw was a rather clever production that, aside from perhaps making some unfair demands on its singers in their having to be on stage continuously throughout both acts, standing on a dramatically raked stage, did not attempt to re-create the world of Nero and Rome, but instead to dress the company in costumes that are sometimes Roman (Seneca) are mostly vaguely baroque (the ladies - except Poppea), yet still contemporary (Nerone in black jeans and a T shirt and Ottone in leather pants).

    While there is almost nothing that I love more than attending the opera, I will admit to occasional, um, catnaps during some performances (especially during first act set-ups) - but last night I was riveted from the opening chords from the orchestra. The opera went off and running and never lagged. The raked stage is outfitted with several turntables - one large and two smaller ones, so the cast sometimes is stationary and othertimes revolving. The action unfolds as a first rate conspiracy, highlighted by the outstanding acting and singing of the Poppea, Roberta Mamelli (and the most recent interviewee). Her girlish flirting and plotting is delicious and her singing flawless. I also really loved the singing of Seneca, Andrea Mastroni, who possesses a deep bass voice that is a remarkeable counterpoint to the higher registers of the rest of the performance - as well as a much needed insertion of dramatic integrity to the otherwise continuously plotting cast.

    Roberta Mameli has a sweet, pure soprano that easily negotiated the coloratura, and she acts with her voice as well as outwardly. For the most part, I liked Max Emanuel Cencic’s singing, although there is a harshness in many of his top notes. He has bold stage presence and acted well. Xavier Sabata, however, was the weak link in last night‘s cast. While he is a reasonably good actor, and threw himself into the performance (sometimes literally, hurling himself at the metallic leaf backdrop), his voice shows signs of wear - raspy and lacking volume in the higher ranges, which was disconcerting. All of the comprimari were terrific, but I especially liked Evelin Novak‘s Drusilla, who sang very well and showed superb stage presence.

    Staatsoper audiences tend to be wildly enthusiastic about the opera houses performances - even when I thought them lackluster. Last night‘s enthusiastic applause of the performance was well deserved!
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 13th, 2018 at 02:45 PM.

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