Songs for a mad emperor: Sarah Toth’s Nero Monologues

Sarah Toth’s Nero Monologues is a pastiche opera, or pasticcio: this is a recognised form of opera making, used by Handel among others, where rather than writing an entirely fresh score, a composer collates (some might smirkingly say today ‘curates’) a selection of other people’s music, organising the chosen arias or passages to illustrate a…

Monteverdi’s Poppea, Hampstead Garden Opera

If you turned on BBC Radio 3 for more than 20 mins over the weekend, you might have noticed that we are joyously celebrating the 450th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi, composer of our earliest extant opera, Orfeo. L’incoronazione di Poppea was Monteverdi’s fourth and final opera, and the journey from Orfeo to Poppea shows just how far Monteverdi took the genre, creatively,…

A welcome return: Monteverdi’s Ulysses’ Homecoming, English Touring Opera

Saffron Hall, East Anglia’s brightest new star venue on the classical music horizon, is moving with confidence into direct competition with Snape Maltings. Their first fully staged opera, English Touring Opera’s clear and compelling Ulysses’ Homecoming, marked a development from the Saffron Opera Group’s previous concert performances of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre; and, with the…

Prom 25: Monteverdi’s Orfeo forever fresh in Gardiner’s hands

For over 20 years the Gonzagas paid him late, ignored his personal tragedies, and treated him in all practical terms with cruel contempt. Monteverdi, nevertheless, created extraordinary music in the Gonzaga court (before moving, at last, to Venice in 1613, where he would soon be properly appreciated): and top of the list of his Mantuan…

Love conquers all, kills some, exiles others: Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea at Grimeborn

Ryedale Festival Opera’s version, in a clear and lyrical new translation by John Warrack, absolutely understands Monteverdi’s sophisticated agenda: and, with a talented cast in director Nina Brazier’s capable hands, resoundingly succeeds on all levels, giving us an evening of luxurious beauty, abandoned sensuality and superb characterisation. Click here to read my full review on…