A shameless quest for power through any means necessary is the focus of Monteverdi’s “L'incoronazione di Poppea” (The Coronation of Poppea), the spring opera production from the Rice University Shepherd School of Music’s Opera and Chamber Orchestra.
Set for April 14 at 7:30 p.m. and April 16 at 2 p.m. in Brockman Hall for Opera’s Morrison Theater, the classic baroque opera is a tale of lust, betrayal, intrigue, conspiracy, corruption and passion as the production’s titular character vies for the love of Emperor Nero — and his wife’s crown.
“‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’ is about a society in atrophy,” said Jennifer Williams , stage director for the production, who has created innovative productions worldwide, with accolades for her multimedia approach to opera.
“The opera examines how greed rots virtue, fortune and even love. It urges us to see tyranny in hidden, private spaces — and what happens to the social fabric when we allow the thread of reason to unravel,” she said.
Drawing from the infamous historical events in Nero’s Rome, Williams said Monteverdi’s opera holds a mirror to his contemporary Venice and offers a cautionary tale for our present society. She said collaborating with the exceptional young artists at Rice has been a joy.
“Their bold imaginations and unflagging quest for expressing the complexity of the human condition augur well for the future of the art form,” Williams said. “The future of opera is in good hands here at Rice.”
While “L'incoronazione di Poppea” was first performed more than 350 years ago, the Shepherd School will present a reimagined version with dynamic staging and contemporary costumes.
“My vision for the production embraces the poetic, with a design that distills the decay of a society to an atmosphere,” she said. “Evading a fixed time and place, the costumes blend haute couture with Venetian and Roman dress.”
Hailed for “hot music making” and “impassioned leadership” by Opera News, Gary Thor Wedow will conduct both performances. Wedow is highly regarded for his work with opera companies, orchestras, festivals and choral organizations throughout North America, including Seattle Opera, New York City Opera and The Canadian Opera Company.
Tickets are $50 for preferred seating, $25 for general admission and $10 for Rice faculty, staff and students. Shepherd School faculty, staff and students receive one free ticket per person. To purchase tickets, visit https://music.rice.edu/departments-and-ensembles/opera/2022-2023-opera-season.