Claudio Monteverdi

composer: Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
libretto: Giovanni Francesco Busenello (1598-1659)
first performance: Venice, 1642
conductor: Kenneth Montgomery
direction: Javier López Piñón
costume design: Fer Smidt
set- and lighting design: Henk Kraayenzank
photography: Co Broerse
company: Koninklijk Conservatorium
premiere: Kees van Baarenzaal, Den Haag 16th April 1994











The setting of this opera by Monteverdi was replaced to the 1950's, especially the 'Film Noir' inspired us. This baroque opera needed Dutch subtitles so video screens were used. At the screens live images were shown during performance. Not to 'upgrade' the story to our new technology, but to make the audience aware of the timeless themes. Without showing fascism there were military costumes, without being historical there was a Greek historical costumed festivity. In other words Lana Turner fell in love with a castrated Nero (played by a women of course). This seems all nonsense, but in the end the audience knew it was all about gaining power and it still is.






In the prologue, Fortune, V´rtue and Love debate the strengths of each of these qualities, setting the stage for the opera to follow.

In Rome, Anno 65, Emperor Nero has taken Poppea as his mistress, to the great displeasure of Ottone, who is in love with her. Ottavia, Nero's wife, is comforted by the nurse Arnalta and the philosopher Seneca. After Nero announces that he will discard Ottavia and marry Poppea, Seneca accuses him of insanity, while Poppea's insinuations to Nero that Seneca is after his throne results in the Emperor sentencing the philosopher to death. Ottone, again rejected by Poppea, resolves to kill her and starts to woo the courtier Drusilla.

Seneca commits su´cide; Nero celebrates, while Ottavia persuades Ottone to kill Nero. He borrows Drusilla's clothes, but when he steals into the Emperor's bedroom, Love prevents him from the murderous act.

Drusilla is arrested for the attempted murder. She protests her innocence, but when Ottone tries to admit his guilt, she protects him by admitting her part in the plot. The Emperor, unsure of the real culprit, exiles both of them, as weil as Ottavia. Poppea's coronation, watched over by Love and the other three deities, concludes the opera.