The Paris 2004 “L’incoronazione di Poppea” Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Monteverdi’s “Poppea” from Paris (2004), conducted by René Jacobs.

Cast Listing:
Nerone: Anna Caterina Antonacci
Poppea: Patrizia Ciofi
Ottavia: Anne Sofie von Otter
Ottone: Laurence Zazzo
Seneca: Antonio Abete
Amore: Amel Brahim-Djelloul
Drusilla: Carla di Censo
Nutrice: Dominique Visse
Arnalta: Tom Allen
Lucano: Finnur Bjarnason
René Jacobs

The production is available on YT here. Italian libretto via La Scala, bilingual Italian/English here (might have cuts, didn’t check)

438 thoughts on “The Paris 2004 “L’incoronazione di Poppea” Liveblogging Thread”

    1. Hi Katherine!
      no, there isn’t… if you have a WP account, you get automatic alerts and can access it all in ‘read mode’, but that’s the only workaround we found so far.
      sorry about the delay. Not sure what’s up with thadieu, she is always the first in line for Antonacci.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. it’s there now. i’m in reader mode to comment better.

            Ottone with Pepto bismo. is it as effective in europe? He’s american afterall.. perhaps introducing the product to europe..
            oh, along with the gun in the briefcase.

            *very* sensitive singing!! and HORNS!

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        1. yes, and Ciofi double as Poppea 🙂 .
          hi Katherine. Sorry i was late because i was waiting for the post to pop up in the reader but it never appeared for some reason.. i was already up and waiting 15min before, for ACA…

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  1. getting major Jacobs Calisto flashbacks. 🙂

    also, as someone state about a jacket on a recent conference: “That’s a lovely bit of hypothermia protection blanket to wear out for a gala”

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  2. ahhhh, NOW it shows up in the reader!! much easier to read and comment. I get it now, the feed shows up with a timelag. Amore is now heading back to heaven. Here comes Ottone. I like his voice a lot!

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  3. ps- sorry the sound is a bit low, unless you have an extra pair of speakers. I doubled the size of the video but didn’t touch the audio.. in hindsight i could have boosted the sound.

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    1. I am just so happy there is a copy online AT ALL of this. It’ll be old school – we are so spoiled by all the HD rips. (works fine with headphones!)

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  4. also, very young Lawrence Zazzo…
    yup, hand me a sip of that Scotch will you?
    (this is the lament of someone who will stand no chance against Antonacci’s Nerone)

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    1. He may have better chances if he was young Sonia Prina in that fencing suit in the 2006 production. I’m trying to follow up on this blogging party, but haven’t come further than this scene this lunchtime, then got distracted, heading over to that clip… But I agree, Zazzo has a very nice sound. Will return later, curious what the Brokeback Mountain scene is about.

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      1. Better chances with whom, dear? 😉
        (That was one fetching outfit though. Very much so.)

        Brokeback, oddly, is talking about ladies here…?

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  5. also love the night guards with the coffee –
    when Guth did it last winter at TADW, it was also the guards in a car, drinks, getting up and brushing their teeth.

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    1. …that about sums it up.

      (been trying to come up with a longer and more eloquent phrase, but keep getting derailed. Neither of them is taking prisoners)

      also, flawless ornament work by ACA so far. That double trill right now? Hot damn.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Haha, love your comments, and I’m not making any progress watching this, somehow I keep repeating… Good lord, the phrasing by both of them, this would be hot even without the optics.

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      1. Exactly! I keep wondering how much of it is Italians singing in Italian, and how much of it is those two somply being really good with word dynamics in addition. (I cannot wait for thadieu’s live impressions from the Paris Hindemith on ACA!)

        >

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            1. (jeah, that’s what i hope! and it’s really a very compelling role! but for sure sometimes i really can’t hear anything in rep that i have no clue about.. have been listening to that the last 3 nights.. haunting music!)

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            2. An artist of her caliber in a role about negotiating the transformative power of sensuality? At this point, I don’t care who wrote the music: if ACA found an approach to it, she will be able to transmit it.

              >

              Liked by 1 person

            3. ps- let me drop a link here, interview just 2 nights ago before opening night of Sancta Susanna, also on what she would like to sing.. with a mention about this Nerone but according to google translator she finds Poppea has many more facets (and again to emphasize her Poppea, perhaps also on the to-watch list come 2017 🙂 ).

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            4. on an added note, the casting of Garanca and ACA makes for an interesting contrast of overall approaches.

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    1. really a change in Ottavia register to the last I heard – that was Larmore at TADW who did a marvelous camp take with scotch all over a grand piano. But this is dead serious.

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  6. I am experiencing difficulties with getting notifications in Reader so I can respond to anything in time. But I don’t mind the fangirling at all. Enjoy!

    (If you were to get a livefeed of my thoughts seeing Connolly’s Nerone for the first time… dang…)

    Ooh… fantastic righteous fury by von Otter.

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    1. Nerone probably took all the trouser pointers he could get from her and then said “Sorry, you gotta go, you might have more game with Poppea than I do”

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    1. So I just realized where I’d seen Amel Brahim-Djelloul before–as a very sweet Servilia–then cued up Valletto and had an attack of the squees.

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            1. …of which the best entry ever, to me, is the Salzburg Bonney/Garanca because – well, because.

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    1. also kind of a standard look these days? very similar in the TADW, too, and I remember at least one more –
      (actually thadieu, who staged this one?)

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      1. I know you two love them, but I wish I could see ACA’s face and those dreadlocks keep getting in the way. (Also, some feelings on white people wearing dreadlocks… but then, Nerone isn’t exactly a culturally sensitive guy.)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. and Jacobs building up the tensions in cojunction with their increased intensity in voice. When i heard E.Haïm + PP + MP during a very particular moment the “se viver” this scene immediately came to mind.

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    1. okay, at labbri tuoi, something CLEARLY went up in flames (other than thadieu).

      It’s one plus to have two singers who can act, and another to have two Italian singers who don’t have any issues with the idiom.

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    1. wondering if *someone* would have enough middle range and heft to sell this, or whether it would be too much lyrical elegance… but better not imagine that, lest I pass out and miss the rest of the 1st Act.

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        1. yes. I think we have to rewatch a lighter Nerone, that might be easier for looking at it through a soprano lens. I know i found Sabadus at times too light when I heard him, and he really threw himself into it. Of course, it’s a core thing with counters.

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          1. yes, but a certain soprano’s core is stronger than a typical light CT. THe other link which I didn’t choose, with ACA singing Poppea (absolutely worth a watch too!) has a *very* high and light mezzo..

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            1. will check that out under the pretense of comparing ranges. And you are right, more heft than a light counter, sure. Just not convinced the tessitura would be high enough to fit her comfortably.

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            2. this. ja. but she also sang Rusalka, where you can also hear it’s not exactly her most comfort range. Same with Semiramide where she really excelled , but i think that’s higher than Rusalka?

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            3. here’s an example of a “lighter” mezzo, von Otter as Nerone! i just saw, with Minkowski, very minimal orchestration too, nothing like the party we had last night .
              (She still has enough heft compared to the really lighter version in Bologna 1993 version).
              (on a related note, could she sing Poppea?)

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            4. Nerone being lighter/higher than Poppea was common in Venice – hero voice above heroine voice. Greetings from the countryside museum.

              >

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            5. Oh yes, good reason. And it has been done with lyric mezzos, so perhaps the lyric is not as off. If someone is good with the rhetorical sculpting you need for Monteverdi, I think many colors would work.

              >

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  7. *lol* at the phone conversation between Ottone and Poppea.
    Hard to believe this is the same director than that von Otter Carmen (that was him, wasn’t it?) and other kitschy snoozefests.

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      1. I like some of his things (mostly earlier ones), and of course it is just my opinion. But it also depends on the period of the piece at times?
        E.g. some director are great with Baroque, but can’t sell 19thc century, and vice versa.

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      2. I remember being bored by his very superficial-smooth (to my eyes) Glyndebourne Abduction in 2015, which did not at all address the racism or the undercurrents.

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    1. that would be very noble in line.

      Zazzo’s half-heartedly lied “to bramo” right now is fine, but Mingardo might have different layers there, already in timbre.

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    1. yes, the TV setting works great for Seneca’s vanity subtext. Knocks him off that untouchable pedestal, too. – but in watching this now, I realize where Guth got his concept idea of the TV studio setting.

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            1. I have my own preferred version of events for that production, but that would have the disadvantage of the opera ending pretty soon after the beginning.

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            2. well, you could always have two more Acts of Ariodante sulking at the wedding of Ginevra and Polinesso, babysitting their kid while pouting at the two of them being deliriously happy, and then he would slowly be falling in love with… Dalinda?

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  8. just the way Antonaccti STANDS THERE. Without even doing anything else.
    It’s that source that Barba quotes on someone watching a famous Japanese actor in a female role, and sitting in the audience and looking at that actor’s hands, and then his own, and being thrown by how the actor’s hands seems to incredibly beautiful through the acting, and his own, resting on his knees, are just ordinary hands.

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        1. makes me miss the days where she would still go all out like this. *sigh*
          She knows very well what she can do, and she does interesting projects now, but of course it is different.

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  9. more Dominique Visse running ancient Roman Falcon Crest. I would watch this as a daily soap (he really reminds me of a strangely mutated Dessay, who is on tour now with PMO/Gibault with that Pictures of America project..)

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      1. Visse’s physicality is something else. In the Liceu Poppea, I’m astounded he didn’t break something leaping onto the desk (on wheels!) wearing platform heels.

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            1. yes, he does this very uncamp, and smooth!

              In the Liceu production, I think Visse did both nurse characters? Let’s see what Allen does in this one.

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    1. over Drusilla in a suit unbuttoning her shirt I might, however, have realized sooner why some things simply never did work out.

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    1. Haha, no, not complaining, Ciofi is really waking me up right now (despite the party on the chaise being a lot of fun as well), I agree, she has incredible charisma!

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          1. Aww, that was the Secret Plan. As you can see, we missed you! (But I really misunderstood at first and thought ACA was doing a Nerone/Amore double bill)

            >

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  10. so here we can wonder whether Drusilla has been wearing a suit all night so Ottone does not have to put on a dress now.

    (though I have to say that Dumaux in the TADW looked very good and very serious in Drusilla’s dress, and it was very pink, and in her heels)

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    1. Yes, I had that thought. On the one hand, enjoying Drusilla in a suit. On the other hand, worrying that it would undermine the queerness of another moment. As far as I could see, Ottone wore the headscarf and long coat, so I guess that’s meeting halfway.

      Idle thought: did Drusilla wear a suit to foreshadow them exchanging clothes?

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      1. also an interesting take on things.
        (but it also seems everyone at that court other than Poppea and the nurses wears suits? And even Poppea had pajama pants at first)

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            1. Hm, that’s interesting because I thought only of similarities in acting approach so far and in ideas of “authentic embodiment”, but on the vocal level – I will have to listen for that.

              >

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            2. it’s really is in the voice texture (too)! there’s this “rough” edge in both ACA’s and MP’s that works extremely well for me. Without it it’s too smooth and i can’t hear anything besides smoothness. I always visualize it like a wooden stick with rough edge and splints, rub rub my inner ears 😀 . Otherwise it rinses right through! 1 layer deeper: MP’s voice has a “ping” (caramelized chocolate?) whereas ACA’s is significantly warmer (molten lava). MP goes higher (but in cases causes headache for both me, and clearly for Dehggi, if it’s in combo with loud) whereas ACA is truly the queen of low notes (within soprano range). That being said, i do like how MP navigated her low notes and would love to hear her take on both Romeo and Nerone!

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            3. After reading through your metaphors, I am now hungry. Convinced, but also hungry (hm, I am taking your caramel and molten chocolate cakes and raise you a few salted tangerines ;-). ). I think something with hot chocolate and a stroll through YT are in order (hm, I should take up the nightcap tradition again, I think).

              Liked by 1 person

    1. except if you have CT Hansen.. i got a crash course in a way i so not enthusiastically endorsed.. i mean if my first ever Poppea was this…
      (but yes, it was w/ Hansen that i realized how high this role is.. and then I heard Connolly, and also realized it’s very high.. and then i heard that mezzo singing w/ ACA’s Poppea in Bologna.. an concluded it was a soprano’s role.. until this..)

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      1. It gets pretty high, but I still try to figure out where the majority of his singing lies – also depending on the versions and the tuning. There is so much adapting yo have to do when doing this, anyway…

        >

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  11. It’s so rare you get three mainstream-trained singers and all three of them are well-versed in Monteverdi, and have no trouble adapting to his style.

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  12. – having the sneaking suspicion that Ciofi’s costumes in this production were largely spray-painted onto her. an she even breathe?

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        1. no empty gestures, and please no awkwardness. In case of awkwardness, find something you don’t feel awkward about.

          (roaming is fine when it is intended somewhere in brings a specific, desired mood across. But no more involuntarily lackluster pawing)

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          1. I can’t imagine Ciofi ever being awkward in anything and I really like the acting of both of them here. She, trying out the “Queen thing”, not really being used to it yet, but clearly getting there soon, and he, yes, as you said, cute in his immaturity.

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            1. I don’t think I’ve ever called a Nerone cute before? But also, on Ciofi: ironic in a way that some singers choose to act less thinking of dignity and saving face and yet ending up looking awkward, and then you’ve got Ciofi, who somehow always comes across as classy and not awkward, and she seems to have no reservations there.

              >

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            2. Yes, that kind of cute – I don’t think I’ve described Nerone as cute in any kind of meaning before this.

              >

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      1. i was sooo thrilled to discover it, then found out there was a broadcast! luckily someone preserved in on vhs i think, then transferred to cd… so i was able to get hands on… (still hunting for Agrippina…)

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        1. Just in case it’s the one you mean, I think there is an Agrippina with ACA from 2000(?) on Jovi715’s channel (you have to search back through all the videos). That’s a really cool channel anyway, I’m still/again occupied with the extracts from the 2006 Incoronazione.

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            1. 🙂 the outfit, yes, but more so, the attitude… That must have been a really cool performance with a great cast in general, you don’t happen to have more parts of it because of ACA?

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            2. there was 1 clip of her singing an aria that was truly setting the stage on fire but i missed downloading it,

              and then that channel went under.. Dominique Visse upgraded his singing in acting in Paris as well, just a riot! (and the staging used the same female wall-size image background as from Poppea)

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            3. oh, i replied with my crying face and it went into quarantine. I downloaded a few clips before a previous channel went under but missed one very critical ACA’s aria, sooo sad.. by 2004 every one of them went all out in acting as well, a total riot! Dominique Visse, singing a male role! was truly having fun with it.

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      1. As a stage manager, I can appreciate it. I had this blackout cue at the end of ‘The Rape of Lucretia’ that I got such contentment from calling correctly because it timed out perfectly with the final chord.

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  13. still recovering… majorly…
    i think that sound is absolutely irresistible to my ears. But not just the sound, the phrasing. Because i literally did not need a libretto. now having Nerone’s low line in head on that last phrase, as the light dimmed.

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    1. that’s the biggest compliment, and probably the most welcome one, too. For an artist who works so very much from the meaning of the text.

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    2. i listened to 5 Nerone’s before, and never got it, truly. Until this one came along. then everything made sense in the music. Afterward, it was ok to sample everything else because i finally “get” the music.

      Coincidentally, i just saw Naglestad as Vitellia, and suddenly this character finally made sense to me! (strange enough but i have never quite understood Vitellia…, until 2 nights ago.. there’s some really strange ways a singers suddenly can make sense in my head)

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      1. yes, Naglestad has that, too. That higher frequency about her, and the way of channeling that into the text, and into the music.

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  14. Congrats, Katherine, on surviving your first opera night with this particular queer nerd posse. 😉 It was great you could make it, hope you had fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It will take some getting used to following the video, libretto and comments all at once, but yes I did have fun. Thanks for the welcome!

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  15. Uhm.. Katherine.. Hope you really enjoy our gatherings.. sorry, am a bit overboard now.. this is by far one of my top fav production.. majorly obsessive.. so excuse the drooling. This, and Romeo from Munich, and Sifare.. and Alcina.. ujhm…

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      1. Aww. But no judgment at all from this corner. While you didn’t witness it today, I do plenty of fangirling/flailing/drooling over certain singers/characters/productions.

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  16. (now is the time to reveal: i had a dream last night, ACA singing in Paris, and i somehow couldn’t hear her well and didn’t get anything from her phrasing…
    Did you know *three* weeks before Alcina i had a the same dream? that you and I were there but we sat too far and did not hear a single phrase from MP 😀 )

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    1. well, let’s hope the Sancta Susanna will turn out as well as the Alcina did!

      (actually, will you see Garanca too? I’d be curious about how she comes across live)

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  17. i back to Act 1.. and wanted to comment on Nerone in this staging:
    I had a visit to my 3-yr-old nephew last year and upon returning home i got this cd in the mail (another one of those arranging offline + paying + mailing..), and Nerone completely reminded me of my nephew: he was super sweet rubbing head in you + hugging.. and yet at time stomping and being rough, sometimes due to not being aware yet of his strength..
    I see this Nerone as not quite developed mentally, still stuck somewhere in an ~8-year-old development stage psychologically, with impulsive decision/actions being quite rough due to the physicality outgrowing the mental stage. He was quite “rough” with Poppea right at the beginning, even though he was infatuated, and perhaps even totally smitten by her (look at the contrast between the first hair grab to the phrasing of “cor, vezzo, e luce mia.”, and a bit later in “Io non posso da te viver disgiunto, se non si smembra la unità dal punto.”. Even the way he tried to reason with Poppea, a bit like a kid in my view, trying to please/plead. With regards to his boys, it felt as if after his mother was out of the picture (didn’t he kill her?) he was simply hanging out with the wrong crowd and grew attached to anyone who had shown him (even false) affection. The Fosse’s scene is like a peek into his internal feeling, sweet + loyal at times.. , but also quick to snap out into sniffing mode. If you look at the way he discovered it was Ottavia who schemed to kill Poppea (during the sniffing scene) and realized he could use that as a mean to get rid of her: if his head was more straight (ha!) he could have simply ordered, or cooked up any reason to get rid of her without the need to find an excuse, then explained to Poppea (as if hoping she’d give him some brownie, in that scene with screen caps above). And let’s not forget the actual stomping (what my nephew does when throwing tandrum)! In this staging you could see Poppea leading him by the nose and she knew it. But unlike in some other stagings, here Nerone is not even capable of thinking or scheming past the evening. I loved the Finale scene of him introducing her , the true meaning of “l’incoronazione”! He seemed quite proud and honest (and yet we have no clue what his mood would be like later that night or the next day.) . What i also like about that scene was Poppea seeming “surprised” she even made it that far, that her plan worked, with the repeated “(Il mio genio) confuso”.

    As for the phrasing, the first duet, the 2nd duet, the 3rd duet, the finale.. i really wish i could expressed more.. except to say it works on a fundamental level for me. Especially during the section
    “Ma che dico, o Poppea,
    troppo picciola è Roma ai merti tuoi,
    troppo angusta è l’Italia a le tue lodi,
    e al tuo bel viso è basso paragone
    l’esser detta consorte di Nerone.
    Ed han questo svantaggio i tuoi begli occhi,
    che, trascendendo i naturali esempi,
    e per modestia non tentando i cieli,
    non ricevon tributo d’altro onore,
    che di solo silenzio, e di stupore.”

    it felt like hearing a rap artist! And that’s the essence (for me): you hear the music, and the usage of the language in the phrasing, the rhymes. The emphasis, prolongation, sharp cuts, everything is put in a musically-artistry form. I don’t think you hear her as “singing” the beautiful music lines, but rather narrating along musically. And that’s what makes this production rewarding for me. It’s also true you can hear the similar phrasing in all the other characters (e.g., von Otter during that tackling scene in the dark!!!) , so i think R. Jacobs really emphasized that, especially with his orchestra building up the phrase. Yet I think this whole show works as intended for me because of ACA in the primary role. You can plug another Nerone in and the effect might not be as strong, or I might not even figured out the music at all!

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    1. To me, that’s the perfect take on this night (and you obviously have given this far more thought already) – someone who acts on impulse with no stable longterm links! Agathe would probably know all the proper big words for this…

      >

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        1. Good evening to you, then. 🙂 Plan over here is to leave the house in a little over an hour for a pre- Christmas excursion with the Valkyries, God only knows if we will manage that…

          >

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            1. We may need those singing alien overlords as of Dec. 5th… Nerone would be more sound as president than other choices (or at least not notably worse) :p

              >

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