Cher Public

Rome if you want to without anything but the love we feel

“Trove Thursday” marks Monteverdi’s 450th birthday with a rare broadcast of his towering final work L’Incoronazione di Poppea in which the magnificent Ottavia of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson schemes to thwart the romantic and political alliance of Anne-Sofie von Otter and Mireille Delunsch as Nerone and Poppea under the taut direction of Marc Minkowski

Sadly Hunt Lieberson sang Ottavia only a few times—this run at Aix and the year before in San Francisco, her only appearances with the opera company there.

Ottavia was also usually von Otter’s role; she sings it on the John Eliot Gardiner recording and I saw her do it in Paris in a riveting production by David McVicar. But she’s a wonderful Nerone here opposite Delunsch who rarely if ever sang in the US; they make a beautifully matched pair.

Whatever happened to Denis Sedov whom I remember as a “strapping” Argante in Rinaldo at New York City Opera in 2000 opposite Christine Goerke and David Daniels? Those allergic to countertenors need not worry—there are none in this Poppea, a rarity over the past few decades. We do get a tenor rather than a booming contralto as Poppea’s nurse Arnalta: Jean-Paul Fouchécourt always excels in drag.

One may notice Magdalena Kozená in a pair of small roles as Minkowski was among the first international conductors to use her. I remember visiting my sister in Prague in 1998 where she was working at the time and found several disks by the then-young and unknown-to-me Czech mezzo in a large CD-store—remember those? I bought her all-Bach recital and was much impressed.

This performance comes from the first-run at Aix of a Klaus-Michael Grüber staging that was filmed the following summer but without Hunt Lieberson and Anna Larsson.

Monteverdi’s three extant operas have had many performances this year in Europe, in the US a lot fewer. However, Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra conclude their seven-month world tour this month with a trio of semi-staged performances of L’Orfeo, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and Poppea in both Chicago and New York.

Monteverdi: L’Incoronazione di Poppea
Aix-en-Provence Festival
July 1999

Poppea: Mireille Delunsch
Ottavia: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
Drusilla: Nicole Heaston
Nerone: Anne-Sofie von Otter
Ottone: Anna Larsson
Valetto/Virtu: Magdalena Kozena
Damighella/Amor: Cassandre Berthon
Fortuna: Marie José Trullu
Pallade: Sylvia Marini
Seneca: Denis Sedov
Arnalta: Jean-Paul Fouchécourt
Lucano: Tracy Welborn
Liberto/Littore: Luc Coadou

Les Musiciens du Louvre
Conductor: Marc Minkowski

Poppea as well as last month’s four As can each be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the posting’s audio player and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Nearly 100 other “Trove Thursday” podcasts also remain available from iTunes (recently updated) or via any RSS reader.

  • aulus agerius

    According to Opera News calendar FGO was doing L’Orfeo in March but now their site shows Gluck’s version (like several other companies). Damn!

  • PCally

    Thank you so much for this! I’d seen the DVD with most of the same cast but I’d always wanted to here Hunt’s Ottavia, seems like such an ideal role for her!

    Von Otter is ideal in monteverdi.

    • Peter

      PCally, I saw a couple of the Poppea performances in San Francisco with Hunt Lieberson as Ottavia. Her “A Dio Roma” was one of the most moving experiences in all of my opera going years, which date back to 1973. Talk about commanding a stage … and that voice!”

      • Camille

        I’ll bet it was. How lucky!

        That is such a great, great , GREAT piece. It stands somewhere outside of all time and period and style to remain eternal.

  • berkeleygirl

    Denis Sedov! What a lovely guy… I’ve wondered the same thing. We sang together in Figaro, in Seattle, back in the late 90s. A wonderful singer, but also a really fun, down-to-earth guy…

    As for Poppea, next week Gardiner’s Monteverdi 450 comes to Chicago, and I can’t wait. Has anyone here see Kangmin Justin Kim? On this clip, he sounds absolutely gorgeous.

    • Armerjacquino
      • Armerjacquino
        • Camille

          Oh Grazie TANTO!!!
          PURE Brighton Beach!!!!

          Love Dennis Sedov and remember him well from his Fedora, debut!

          • fletcher

            Re: Berlioz (I never talk about anything else, sorry!), Sedov is really great on Boulez’s R&J set, and also sings two of the Nuits d’été, including “Le spectre”.

            • rapt

              “Re: Berlioz (I never talk about anything else, sorry!)”--But, really--what else is there? (fellow hectorophile here)

            • Camille

              OUAI!!!!!!!! +2!

            • Camille

              Oh really? Thank you. i will try to find that as I do like those songs (mélodies divided up as they were originally intended. I wonder how he will do R&J, so Hyper-Romantique?!

              I forgot to tell you in re Boulez SF that the primary reason for picking it out was to listen to his Tristia and which I thought I already knew, but didn’t. I had not realised he had an SSA version of the Ophélie mélodie. Better as a solo and once I heard a broadcast of Esa Pekka with Anne Sofie from L.A. Phil of that which was just exquisite.

              I decided Boulez is far too rational and business-like for SF. OH YES!! Forgot to mention that the Boulez Répons shall be given this weekend at the Armory--if you are interested at all to know I shall redact back to you my husband’s experience of it.

              Never enough Hector le Fou for me!

            • fletcher

              Camille, the Boulez R&J is actually very good, I think (I really like the Ozawa too, and of course the old Munch with my boyfriend Cesare Valletti) -- Boulez really gets some of the weird details, especially in the last movement: the skittering horns, the sharp stabs in the strings, &c. I’ll give the Tristia a listen!

            • Camille

              Oh that was a shame to lose R&J. I guess I heard it in Fisher Hall with Sir Colin (or BLIMEY! Was that The Damnation???!?, or Both?). Can’t remember which but it was tremendous. Oh yes, I seem to recall the Pandæmonium, one of my favourite things and the background music to the story of my life.

              I think I’d go with old Munch and your boyfriend, whom I’ve always thought was a bit of a stiff BUT elegant!

              Yes, I agree about the weird details in re Boulez. His recording of die Waldtaube’s aria with Jessye is one such instance.
              Once saw him in person in Carnegie Hall, downstairs near Zankel and he made such an impression on me. He was standing and looking off in some other direction with such a fierce expression of concentration and this big Basque beret on his head. One knew to be in the presence of a FORCE and then some. He seemed to me something like the impression I’ve always had of Debussy--a Fauve, don’t know if I explain myself. Never have forgot seeing him like that, as it was totally happenstance.

              Oh I MUST shut my piehole and go back to solving murders with Miss Marple, my role model.

            • fletcher

              You could do worse in a boyfriend than stiff & elegant.

            • Camille

              Vraiment mon petit choux!

            • Camille

              His “Sur les lagunes” is EPIC with that low E. A thrill!


              Thank you so very much for mentioning as this song should always be done by a low male voice as prescribed by Berlioz. What a difference!!

      • CCorwinNYC

        Armer, thanks for the heads-up about Sedov. I recall something about his having problems back in the day (too much too soon?) but it would seem he’s working steadily. I scarcely remember seeing his name over the past decade though.

  • Camille

    And why do all Monteverdi singers look like yoga class attendees??? “Park Slope Yogagyrotonics”

    • Not quite sure why but you remind me of a late friend who asked “Why does everyone in health food shops look so ill?”

      You also remind me of Ton Koopman’s Bach and of many “baroque” performances.

      • Camille

        Eh bien, the only thing baroque about me is my pearls, mon cher vieux!

  • OMG, the thought of LHL as Ottavia. She must have been so moving to experience in person.

    • PCally

      She’s really incredible (I finished listening early today). This is a luxury cast that all sound fabulous and she STILL walks off with the show. She’s so musical but somehow the text comes through perfectly (minus occasional vowel strangeness) and it feels like she’s singing right to you. An ideal thing in a singer for me.