William Christie / Les Arts Florissants

Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea

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William Christie's career as the leader of the early music group Les Arts Florissants dates back to 1979; the group was one of the first to specialize in French Baroque vocal music. A generation of historical instrument specialists has come along since then, but Christie and Les Arts Florissants remain vigorous and influential. Consider this performance of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, recorded live at the Salzburg Festival in 2018. The production is of the modern sort, with dancers on stage enacting the lowdown story of Poppea, who schemes her way into a marriage with Nero (Nerone). You can hear them perhaps a bit too much in the audio version, but also see them on the enclosed DVD, so you can take your pick. There are some big names in the cast, from both traditional operatic and Baroque backgrounds, including soprano Sonya Yoncheva as Poppeo, countertenor Dominique Visse as Poppea's nurse Arnalta, and mezzo Kate Lindsey as Nerone. Yoncheva and Lindsey sound a bit unsteady but still ravishing in the final duet, having killed off no less than the philosopher Seneca the Younger. However, the real star of the show is Christie himself. He conducts from the harpsichord, and the recording conveys the energy of a good live performance. A lot of the energy comes from Christie's nine-musician continuo section, which marks the performance heavily and sets it apart from even other historical-instrument performances of the opera. A fine performance of Monteverdi's last opera, and the one that looks forward the most to the art form as it exists today.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
L' incoronazione di Poppea SV 308
1 03:39 Amazon
2 03:05 Amazon
3 01:37 Amazon
4 07:14 Amazon
5 03:27 Amazon
6 09:54 Amazon
7 05:54 Amazon
8 11:08 Amazon
9 07:44 Amazon
10 01:16 Amazon
11 02:02 Amazon
12 05:18 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
L' incoronazione di Poppea SV 308
1 05:22 Amazon
2 04:33 Amazon
3 04:27 Amazon
4 02:04 Amazon
5 05:07 Amazon
6 05:20 Amazon
7 04:50 Amazon
8 04:41 Amazon
9 04:26 Amazon
10 05:40 Amazon
11 02:36 Amazon
12 03:27 Amazon
13 05:22 Amazon
14 02:48 Amazon
15 06:51 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
L' incoronazione di Poppea SV 308
1 07:43 Amazon
2 02:28 Amazon
3 03:53 Amazon
4 01:39 Amazon
5 01:00 Amazon
6 03:44 Amazon
7 04:45 Amazon
8 07:01 Amazon
9 03:17 Amazon
10 04:41 Amazon
11 02:34 Amazon
12 02:42 Amazon
13 02:31 Amazon
14 02:35 Amazon
15 05:43 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick