Spinosi Leads Splendid Orchestra and Cast in Monteverdi’s Last Opera

03/12/2017

Monteverdi, L’Incoronazione di Poppea (concert version): Ensemble Matheus / Jean-Christophe Spinosi (conductor), Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 1.12. 2017. (JMI)

Cast:

Poppea – Sabina Puértolas
Nerone – David DQ Lee
Ottavia/Virtú – Maite Beaumont
Ottone – Filippo Mineccia
Drusilla/Fortuna – Verónica Cangemi
Seneca – Luigi De Donato
Amore/Valletto/Pallade – Emilie Rose Bry
Arnalta/Soldato/Tribuno – Krystian Adam
Lucano/Soldato/Liberto/Littore/Nodriza – Francisco Fernández Rueda
Mercurio/Tribuno – Cyril Auvity

To commemorate the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi, the Liceu presented the final opera by the Italian composer – and it was a grand success. The musical direction was in the hands of Jean-Christophe Spinosi, leading his Ensemble Matheus. I’ve always been impressed by the great energy he displays, which makes his Baroque readings so attractive. Here, Spinosi offered an extremely delicate reading of the Monteverdi, marked by ever-present emotion, delicacy and inspiration. The Ensemble Matheus was excellent, and followed their conductor with extraordinary precision.

The protagonist, Poppea, has left her husband, Ottone, and is now the lover – and later the wife – of Nero. Sabina Puértolas, one of the few vocalists who played only one role in this concert, was fully convincing in the part. She exhibited complete mastery of the score, singing and moving with ease.

Nero was sung by David DQ Lee, who appeared this past year at the Liceu in Handel’s Xerxes. His middle range is very good, but he is less impressive in the high register, which is somewhat uncontrolled.

If I had to pick just one outstanding performer, it would undoubtedly be mezzo-soprano Maite Beaumont in the part of Ottavia, the wife of Nero, who is ultimately repudiated. She sang brilliantly, with a beautiful voice and great expressiveness, and crowned the evening with her interpretation of ‘Addio, Roma’.

The role of Ottone was performed by countertenor Filippo Mineccia, who was better here than last month in San Sebastian where he sang Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare. He sang with gusto and intention and was much more controlled than on the aforementioned occasion.

Verónica Cangemi’s voice is well suited to the role of Drusilla, and she is comfortable in this repertoire. Tenor Krystian Adam was impressive in his multiple roles, and impeccable as Arnalta, It should be noted that he was an outstanding Orpheus in John Eliot Gardiner’s recent world tour.

Francisco Fernandez Rueda covered no less than five characters, and in all of them he offered good musicality, besides being an excellent actor. Bass baritone Luigi De Donato was also fine in the part of Seneca, both in his duet with Nero and in the scene of his death.

French soprano Emilie Rose Bry and her attractive voice made a strong impression in the three parts that she sang. And Cyril Auvity did well as Mercurio and in two other small parts.

José M. Irurzun

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