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A co-production with Munich and Cardiff, this is apparently the first Monteverdi opera to be staged in Barcelona where it was recorded. It’s a riveting addition to those versions already available, thanks to the remarkable dramatic vision of producer David Alden and excellent musical direction of Harry Bicket. The action takes place in cleverly lit minimal sets – there’s a starring role for a red sofa which gets whirled around – and the contemporary costumes clearly place their wearers in their correct social class, even when cross-dressing. Alden goes for laughs just as much as shocks and the result is a mesmeric piece of story-telling. An exceptional cast is led by Sarah Connolly’s moving Nero (far less the unpleasant fornicator that he’s often presented as being) and Miah Persson’s ravishing Poppea. The smaller roles are all finely acted and well sung with Franz-Josef Selig a notable Seneca. Harry Bicket conducts the Liceu’s Baroque Orchestra with affection. In a word, outstanding.

Richard Fawkes Read the full review on Agora Classica

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