Monochrome Poppea

Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea was the “shabby, little shocker” of the 17th century.  It’s about lust, obsession, murder and revenge.  So, it’s a bit surprising that all too often it comes off as elegant but deadly dull.  That’s rather the case with Pierre Luigi Pizzi’s production filmed at the Teatro Real in 2010.  Despite having Danielle di Niese, something of a specialist Roman sex kitten, in the title role it’s all rather bloodless.  It starts off OK with the gods and goddesses of the prologue being wheeled about on platforms but after that he gets rather static.  Sets and costumes are almost unrelieved grey/silver tones (including a rather fetching pair of silver lamé booty shorts for Damigella) although Nerone himself seems to be dressed as a giant black chicken in Act1 (know you of such a bird, Baldrick?).  The only real breaks in the (literal) monotony are the bright red robe Ottone borrows from Drusilla for the attempted murder and the sparkly gold outfits  that appear for Nerone and Poppea at the end.  It’s also rather dark most of the time.

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