Poppea without passion

I’m not sure whether it was director Pierre Audi’s intention or a lack of chemistry between the principals but the 1994 Amsterdam production of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, while extremely elegant, lacks gut punch.  The stage has been extended to mostly cover the pit leaving the band (only seventeen musicians) in a triangular space cut into the extended stage.  Much use is made of a staircase into the pit for entrances and exits.  The large stage area is sparsely furnished with objects suggesting, rather than being, rocks, furniture etc.  The costumes, by Emi Wada, are odd indeed ranging from a nurse who appears to be wearing sculpture to a Seneca who wears what looks like an old bedspread that the cat has used as a scratchy toy.  Within this fairly artificial and abstract concept Audi manoeuvers his singers in complex ways (or at least he seems to when the video director lets us see) supported by a complex and atmospheric lighting plot.  It really ought to be terrific but it just doesn’t get there. Continue reading