L’Incoronazione di Poppea (1643): Claudio Monteverdi

Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea

★★★½

(Hampstead Garden Opera at Jackson’s Lane Theatre, 12-21 May 2017)

This spring, Hampstead Garden Opera are trying something new: their first Italian opera staged in the original language rather than English translation. The opera in question is Poppea, a perennial favourite of mine. Who could resist this blend of scheming, sexual abandon, murder and imperial arrogance? Certainly not me. Presented on a stripped-back set, this production focuses the attention firmly on the two women, Ottavia and Poppea, competing for the heart of Rome’s indolent, decadent emperor. With sterling support from Musica Poetica, under the baton of Oliver John Ruthven, and a number of exciting voices to add to my watchlist, it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon out.

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The Magic Flute (1791): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart: The Magic Flute

★★★½

(Hampstead Garden Opera at Jackson’s Lane, 15 November 2016)

Tuesday night saw an exciting milestone: my first Flute. I get the feeling the Flute is a bit like the Nutcracker, in that many people first encounter it as children, as a magical way into its art form. However, having waited until adulthood to take the plunge, I was less concerned about the magic and more about whether I’d be able to follow its complicated allegories of Masonic enlightenment. Fortunately, Hampstead Garden Opera’s production told a delightfully clear story which emphasised the narrative at its heart: a mother struggling to do her best for her child, and the transformative effects of first love.

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