It’s a bunch of firsts for the Hampstead Garden Opera and their new production of Claudio Monteverdi’s marvellous opera L’incoronazione di Poppea. Hosted at the Jackson Lane Theatre, it is the first time they are performing with surtitles and asking their 12 young soloists to sing the opera in its original Italian language.
To coincide with the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth, his masterful opera of power, greed, and lust seemed most apt, and it is to the delight of their impressive singers that the production doesn’t feel like an amateur’s feast, at least that is what I felt when I saw it on Friday night.
The soloists are also accompanied by musical director Oliver John Ruthven who strikes a balance between strong voices and the dedicated ensemble, Musica Poetica – a small orchestra of eight musicians with expertise in period instruments including harpsichord, theorbo, harp, viola da gamba, violins, and violone. Put together this makes for an exquisite evening for any Baroque devotee.