Event Date: July 14, 2018
Event Time: 7:00 pm - 12:00 am
Location: Staatsoper, Berlin
In his last opera, Claudio Monteverdi drew for the first time on material with real historical figures, and thus created the first »sex-and-crime story« in operatic history. Like a political thriller, this early Baroque masterpiece tells a story of power and passion and of occasions where it is abused.
Poppea Sabina, the most beautiful woman in Rome, wants nothing less than to be Empress at the side of Emperor Nerone. To this end, she uses all her seductive powers to persuade Nerone to assassinate his wife, Ottavia. When the imperial philosopher Seneca opposes this plan, he has to pay for it with his life. Meanwhile, Ottavia in turn incites the spurned and deceived Ottone to kill her power-hungry rival Poppea. However, the murder is thwarted in time: Ottavia is shunned and Poppea fulfils her plans, wishes and dreams.
At the end of their opera, Monteverdi and his librettist Busenello demonstrate their bitter view of the world: all their characters have flaws, and ultimately, those allowed to triumph are those who act most unscrupulously. Monteverdi manages the feat of exposing his partially caricatured figures, whose melodies are very differently characterized, in a sometimes humorous fashion while also creating empathy for them. His extremely expressive music, with sensual melodies, bold harmonies and astoundingly avant-garde style, tempts us to cheer on the adulterers, despite their scandalous behaviour.