This fiery performance of L'incoronazione di Poppea (referred to here as Il Nerone, the title used in Busenello's libretto) is driven by the resonant honesty of the characters' extreme and frequently volatile emotional states, which the soloists convey with singing of exceptional individuality, purity, and tonal beauty.
Genius can be defined in a number of ways. One such definition is to be the right person in the right place at the right time; another is to have the capacity to move your audience to tears. Monteverdi meets both these criteria with flying colours. His professed ambition was to "move the passions of the soul," thereby drawing tears from his audience, and he achieved this with greater efficacy than any of his contemporaries. The use of the word "madrigal" on the title pages of his eight collections (and a posthumous Ninth Book from 1651) is therefore deceptive, concealing radical stylistic changes which brilliantly reflect the turbulent, exciting times in which he lived.
„… the release of a special audiophile treat. It is not without reason that French critics have just awarded the choir the ‘Diapason d’or’ prize.“ (K Int’l)
Monteverdi's three great operas (a fourth, Arianna, only survives in part) are among the earliest surviving examples of opera, and are still regular fixtures on the international operatic repertoire. Orfeo was composed in 1607, and performed that year during the carnival in Mantua. Not only is Orfeo the earliest opera in the repertoire, it was also one of the grandest of its time.
Il Ritorno dUlisse in Patria is based closely on the final books of Homers Odyssey and is hailed as the key work marking the threshold between the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Together with producer Klaus Michael Grüber, Nikolaus Harnoncourt strikes a new balance between musical polish and distillation of the essence of dramatic action. It is a kind of théâtre pauvre, which works with a few carefully chosen and powerful symbols, was how the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reviewed the production. The main action takes place on little more than an angled revolving stage in front of a whitewashed wall which hints at the landscape of a Greek island.