The Catholic University of America

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Opera: Performance of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea

WHERE: The Catholic University of America
Ward Hall, Ward Recital Hall
620 Michigan Ave., N.E.
Washington, D.C.


From Friday, April 17, to Sunday, April 19, the music school's opera and musicology programs present Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, directed by Debbie Niezgoda and Rachel Barham (M.M. 2005). The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. Performances will take place in Ward Hall, Ward Recital Hall, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students, seniors, and CUA faculty and staff. For tickets, call 202-319-5416 or visit

The opera weaves a tale of lust, murder and corruption in ancient Rome, based (with plenty of artistic license) on actual historical events. The beautiful, manipulative Poppea wants to become empress, and to do so she seduces the notorious emperor Nero into marrying her. But before they can marry, a number of obstacles stand in their way: the philosopher Seneca (Nero's tutor and main adviser), the empress Ottavia and Poppea's own husband Ottone (who in turn is being romantically pursued by another lady of the court, Drusilla). These obstacles are dealt with in a shocking, action-packed turn of events, resulting in a morality tale about the dangers of unchecked passion and ambition that is still relevant today.

The opera production is tied to a course taught by Andrew Weaver, assistant professor of musicology, in order to produce a historically-informed performance. One of the challenges of performing this opera today is authenticity, Weaver says, as a huge variety of sources for it have survived including 10 different libretti and two scores. The goal of his class is not to interpret Monteverdi's 17th-century intentions, but to craft a workable version of the opera that best presents its important messages and meaning today.

SPONSOR: Benjamin T. Rome School of Music

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.