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Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione Di Poppea
Claudio Monteverdi, Gabriel Garrido, Gloria Banditelli
Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione Di Poppea
Genres: Alternative Rock, Classical
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #3


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More superb will take a long time to come
Jacques COULARDEAU | OLLIERGUES France | 01/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This opera is probably the fullest opera by Monteverdi. I am going to emphasize several outstanding points. First the tragic situation in the plot. What is important is the feelings and their expression by all the various actors of this dramatic confrontation. Nero wants to marry Poppea, his mistress, or she has managed to convince him he has to marry her, which is her interest and ambition. Nero has to repudiate his present wife Ottavia but he has to have a reason. So he waits. Out of spite she wants to punish Nero by having his mistress killed. Poppea's husband, Ottone, is deeply in love with her and he cannot do anything against Nero's will as long as Poppea is going along and he knows it is no love but only ambition. So his love for her leads him to accepting her decision. But he is also Ottavia's lover and she asks him or rather requires him to kill Poppea otherwise she will have him tortured to a slow death by Nero on the accusation that he raped her. He yields to the desire out of fear as much as spite, or maybe a desire to get even with Poppea : he looks and sounds as the only one who does not really know what he wants to do. But he is loved by Drusilla, a simple woman who lends him her clothes as a disguise to approach Poppea and kill her, on her demand, she thinks, because she wants him for herself alone. So Ottone tries to do it but Poppea is protected by Love and Ottone discovered by the servants. He runs away and Drusilla is arrested due to her clothes that are recognized. Brought to Nero she does not speak and is condemned to a slow painful death, but Ottone appears and tells he did it on the command from the Empress. Nero then exiles his wife he can repudiate easily, pardons and enslaves Drusilla in his own house, lets Ottone free since now he is out of the way, and he can marry Poppea who is crowned at the end of the opera. You must add two side mirror images of the intricacy of the plot. The first is the love affair between the Empress's page and chambermaid, Valetto and Domigella. It emphasizes how love was a game, or a sport, in that ancient Rome, but a sport in which you could kill your competitors. The second side plot is the death of Senecca, ordered by Nero. It is there to enable you to measure the depth of Nero's corruption and tyranny. The second admirable aspect of this opera is the use of voices. Poppea's two lovers are altos, starting thus a long lasting tradition up to Haendel's operas : altos are the heros, the most important males, as opposed to the sopranos who are the most important women. (We have to remember that in those days altos were in fact castratos who were males and provokingly used in their physical maleness : body and allure.) But Monteverdi's supreme genius is his use of voices in a dramatic way, hence opposing them one to the other. The most important duet is Nero and Poppea, an alto and a soprano, reaching its topmost realization in act 3, scenes 5 and 8, the latter being the finale of the opera thus giving to this duet the upmost and outstanding importance it deserves. The second remarkable use of voices is the trio of familiars accompanying Senecca to death with three male voices, an alto, a tenor and a bass in act 2, scene 3. Absolutely amazing and perfect because the three voices have the male harmonics and yet they cover a tremendous range emphasized by the contrasting tools Monteverdi uses. I will quote also the duet Nero and Lucano, an alto and a tenor, in act 2, scene. Let me say that Monteverdi's use of voices is emphasizing their flexibility as for expressing feelings and emotions, and this time the feelings and expressivity may vary through the opera and not one feeling be associated to one voice permanently : a great improvement in operatic production. Last and not least, Monteverdi gets rid of the old style by associating it musically to Senecca who also represents the respect of moral rules against any feelings, passions or emotions like love or hatred. He sings the way he thinks, in an old mould and he is sentenced to death, and in the old socratic tradition accepts to die. Beautiful death, burrying and funeral service and oration for the old style that is thus declared dead, but only with musical means. All that makes this opera one of the most perfect of this new era of operatic writing and composing. Nothing to do with older forms, like the Ludus Danielis of the 13th century. The show has gone on. A new era has risen. We can though wonder what it represents in the ideological set-up of the time. It goes to pagan models, to old Roman, widely pre-christian anecdotes, centers on passions and their killing dimension, when necessary. It is immoral, unethical, irreverential, openly antireligious. Nothing can save man or woman, except her or his passions and blind feelings. But that is the birth of a new world in which the individual can act independently of social rules. A new world really or the resurgence of an old world ? That is the debate that must have run deep in the society of the time : can we accept the fact that the earth is round and it turns around the sun just because it is so, or must we keep our sacred religious beliefs, the word of God himself ?

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
The berst avaliable recording
Marco Zunino | Tokyo | 11/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"All singers are absolutely adequate both from the point of view of the vocal technique and of the Italian pronunciation. This is the best cast for the Incoronazione I had chance to heard. Particularly remarkable are Gloria Banditelli (Ottavia) and Guillemette Laurens (Poppea). Both are a true joy. There is something fresh and new in this performance, partially because is a live recording, but also by Garrido's approach to Monteverdi.
Technically, this is not a perfect recording. However this is absolutely acceptable and, compared to the other CDs by Gariddo for the same label, better than the "Vespri della Beata Vergine" (particularly bad if listened with electrostatic headphones) and the "Orfeo" (where there was some noise). In any case, due to the outstanding musical quality, I strongly recommend all these CDs despite some technical imperfections.
I still have to listen the EMI version with the Sonatori della Giocosa Marca (very difficult to be found), but I definitively recommend this version over both Jacob's and Gardiner's recording. Compared to Gardiner's recording, this one is definitively better not only from the purely musical point of view, but also because it provided the whole text without cuts and the original initial symphony. Mainly for personal taste, I never liked Monteverdi performed by Jacobs (while I love his work with Haendel and Graun). However, if you are really *very* *very* sensible to the technical quality of the recoding, then the
Harmonia Mundi France version could be a good alternative."