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More happy families: Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, recorded live in Salzburg, in which Nero spurns his wife Ottavia for a newer model. Morals are surplus to requirements: Nero is young and unhinged and Poppea a player with her eyes on the main chance. And in Sonya Yoncheva’s performance she certainly sounds blatantly seductive – this woman is undoubtedly pressing the right buttons. When Yoncheva and Kate Lindsey’s Nero spark off each other the speakers are in danger of melting. Lindsey transforms her dark mezzo into a variety of voices – ecstatic, enraged, petulant, whining – and she and Yoncheva erotically intertwine vocally and emotionally. William Christie states that he wasn’t conducting, but was part of an enhanced continuo section, or ‘improvising ensemble… The roles are reversed’, putting the singers centre stage. It works a treat as soloists and players bounce phrases off each other. The remaining cast is strong, with Stéphanie d’Oustrac a firm Ottavia, Renato Dolcini a relatively young-sounding Seneca, and Dominique Visse getting a bit carried away as the nurse Arnalta. Given the aural drama, it would have been interesting to see a film of Jan Lauwers’ production.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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