Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
BBC Music Magazine (11/2019)
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Harmonia Mundi

Code-barres / Barcode : 3149020938805

Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Berta Joncus

This performance of L’incoronazione di Poppea is a starstudded, multimedia extravaganza from the 2018 Salzburg Festival. Conductor William Christie worked closely with director-choreographer Jan Lauwers to fold experimental dance, live video projections, and off-kilter sets and costumes into Monteverdi’s score. Cognitive dissonance reigns as gorgeous music engulfs a drama about moral implosion.

This production is best watched, rather than listened to. Writhing half-naked bodies show inner torture; protagonists’ back-stage antics are projected onstage from a hand-held camera after they’ve gone off. The cruelty of the action is horribly persuasive: driven by mutual lust, Poppea (Sonya Yoncheva) and Emperor Nero (Kate Lindsey) engineer their union by getting rid of those who stand in their way. Yoncheva’s Sonya Yoncheva’s Poppea embodies spontaneity

Poppea embodies spontaneity, thanks to her everchanging timbres, explosive top range, broad gestures and sexy evening dress. Lindsey’s Nero is all cunning: intense, straight-toned, and wilful – altering metric pulse and note value with abandon – she moves with feline grace in her 1970s-style pantsuit. The bond between Yoncheva and Lindsey is erotic and disturbing. Other cast members match their intensity, notably Dominique Visse, who gets under the vicious skin of Poppea’s old wet nurse, and Stéphanie d’oustrac, who as Nero’s pushedaside wife Ottavia breaks with her natural sweetness to bitterly spit out her final number.

Underpinning all this is a band whose members the directors asked to play as soloists. Their realisations add to a production that, while sometimes overreaching itself, is always provocative and exciting.


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