Giovanni Francesco Busenello 
and Claudio Monteverdi, 
<i>L’incoronazione di Poppea</i> (Venice, 1643)

Tim Carter

in Understanding Italian Opera

Published in print December 2015 | ISBN: 9780190247942
Published online October 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190247973 | DOI:
Giovanni Francesco Busenello 
and Claudio Monteverdi, 
L’incoronazione di Poppea (Venice, 1643)

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L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea; 1643) was Claudio Monteverdi’s last opera, and his third for the new public opera houses in Venice. His librettist, Giovanni Francesco Busenello, created a controversial text telling the story of the Emperor Nero; his wife, Octavia; and his mistress, Poppaea, over which arguments run rife even now in terms of its political or satirical intent in comparing ancient imperial Rome with modern republican Venice. Monteverdi forges new musical languages, in part to showcase the talent of star singers such as Anna Renzi (Ottavia), but also to explore what it might mean to create drama through music. The action is delivered in recitative (a form of sung speech), but songs (arias) intervene at key moments, if not always opportune ones. This becomes the central problem of opera throughout its long history.

Keywords: aria; Busenello; Monteverdi; Nero; politics; Poppaea; recitative; Renzi; satire; Venice

Chapter.  17058 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Opera ; Musicology and Music History

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