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Understanding Italian Opera$
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Tim Carter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190247942

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190247942.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
Chapter 2 Giovanni Francesco Busenello 
and Claudio Monteverdi, 
L’incoronazione di Poppea (Venice, 1643)
Source:
Understanding Italian Opera
Author(s):

Tim Carter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190247942.003.0002

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

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