L’incoronazione di Poppea

This production by Calixto Bieito has been one of the most successful shows of recent seasons

Monteverdi's last opera was premiered in the winter of 1642 at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Teatro Grimano) in Venice. The author of the libretto, Giovanni Francesco Busenello, belonged to the Accademia degli Incogniti, a body with a reputation for libertinage and undisguised criticism of Christianity. Opera, at the time, was emerging from the palaces of the nobility to be staged in theatres, where it became available to wider audiences. It was also beginning to use plots based on historical events instead of mythology, as was the case in Monteverdi's own L'Orfeo.  

Monteverdi has been called the "Oracle of Music" and his Poppea, though 380 years old, has surprisingly modern traits, with a depth and passion reminiscent of our own times. The music brilliantly captures Nero's tyrannical hysteria and Poppea's irresistible sensuality. Both words and music are used to achieve superb dramatic effects in a dazzling combination of comedy and tragedy.  

This production by Calixto Bieito was first seen at the Opernhaus Zürich in 2018 and has been one of the most successful shows of recent seasons. Acclaimed by both audience and reviewers, it owes part of its magic to Rebecca Ringst, whose set design brings the audience closer to the stage than ever before. The obsessive, supremely vain characters inhabit a glamorous world of infinite self-praise and self-indulgence which is reflected in the video screens that dominate the stage.  

Julie Fuchs brings us a new, sensuous interpretation of Poppea. Neither setbacks nor defeats will stop her carrying out her plan to metamorphose from an ambitious courtesan into a crowned empress. This will be her leap into the void. Alongside her, countertenor David Hansen will give us an equally enjoyable rendering of Nero, who is so enslaved by Poppea's beauty and words that he willingly orders Seneca to commit suicide after the latter has incurred her displeasure. Her unscrupulous battle against Nero's wife Octavia (sung by Magdalena Kožená) and Ottone (Xavier Sabata) also ends in their banishment. 

Jordi Savall, an unrivalled connoisseur of this repertory, will be on the podium to offer us a score which was believed lost for centuries until rediscovered in 1888. Ingredients such as eroticism, ambition and the fascination of power make this a modern opera. It culminates in the exquisitely melodious duet attributed to Benedetto Ferrari: “Pur ti miro, pur ti godo” (I gaze at you, I delight in you.) 

With the support of:

L’incoronazione di Poppea
Dramma musicale in one prologue and three acts
Libretto by Gian Francesco Busenello
World premiere: Temporada 1642/43 at the Teatro Sancti Giovanni e Paolo (Teatro Grimano) in Venice
Barcelona premiere: 3/2/2009, at the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Last Liceu performance: 3/12/2017, in concert version
Total number of Liceu performances: 12  

  • Approximate running time 3h 15min

Artistic profile

Stage director
Calixto Bieito
Beate Breidenbach
Set design
Rebecca Ringst
Ingo Krügler
Franck Evin
Sarah Derendinger
Opernhaus Zürich


NERONEDavid Hansen
OTTONEXavier Sabata
SENECANahuel di Pierro
LIBERTOJosep Ramon Olivé
LUCANOThobela Ntshanyana
VALETTONatalia Labourdette
LITTOREMilan Perišic
OTTAVIAMagdalena Kožená
POPPEAJulie Fuchs
DRUSILLADeanna Breiwick
NUTRICEMarcel Beekman
ARNALTAEmiliano González Toro
AMORE / FLORIEJake Arditti
Members of Le Concert des Nations
Members of the Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Jordi Savall (10, 12, 14 and 21 July)
Luca Guglielmi (17 and 19 July)

Cast Changes

  • Soprano Rita Morais sings the roles of Fortuna, The Empress's Lady-in-waiting and Pallade replacing Florie Valiquette.

July 2023

10Monday19:00Turn Abuy
12Wednesday19:00Turn Gbuy
14Friday19:00Turn Cbuy
17Monday19:00Turn Hbuy
19Wednesday19:00Turn Bbuy
21Friday19:00Turn EADbuy