Go For Baroque! Mexican Premiere of the Coronation of Poppea with Orchestra

Go For Baroque! Mexican Premiere of the Coronation of Poppea with Orchestra

Pro Musica Season
Baroque Opera
The Coronation of Poppea
Tue and Wed, Feb 25 and 26, 6pm
Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías 75, Centro
200, 400, and 500 pesos

By Michael Pearl

On February 25 and 26 at 6pm at the Bellas Artes, Pro Musica presents the first full Baroque opera in San Miguel de Allende for a decade. Not only that, this opera has never been performed in Mexico, so this is its premier after nearly 400 years! Monteverdi’s seminal work, The Coronation of Poppea, is set in AD 65 and is the story of the infamous Roman Emperor Nero, reputed to have fiddled as Rome burned! The plot follows his attempts to dispose of his wife, Octavia, so he can marry his lover, Poppea, and crown her empress. Nero has to overcome moral objections from his influential adviser, in this case the great philosopher Seneca who is killed. Octavia is thankfully only exiled and Poppea is crowned.

Sung in Italian, there will be supertitles in English and Spanish, and the opera will be accompanied by a Baroque orchestra. Monteverdi is perhaps most famous for his stunning Vespers of 1610, but during a long life his style evolved from purely religious music to include secular music. In the Oxford History of Western Music there is a chapter on early opera entitled “Opera from Monteverdi to Monteverdi.” This humorous wording indicates that Monteverdi is significantly responsible for the transformation of the opera genre from a private entertainment of the nobility to what became a major commercial genre in public theaters. The Coronation of Poppea, written in 1643 a few years before his death, exemplifies this and is widely considered to be the first “modern” opera.

Poppea has a large company of 15 singers, and we have assembled an excellent cast of principals, including countertenor Gamaliel Reynoso, who will alternate on two nights and sing the roles of Nero and Ottone. Reynoso was winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions we staged at the Bellas Artes in 2018 and 2019. Since then his voice and acting abilities have grown thanks in part to a grant from the Pro Musica Scholarship Program that allowed him to study in Germany at the singular International Baroque Academy at Musiktheater Bavaria. He will make his international debut in Poppea in Italy this summer.

Our staging will be true to the original libretto and costumes and sets will reflect the first century. There are many glorious arias in Poppea culminating in the final love duet between Nero and his new empress. Come and see Poppea and enjoy a wonderful and unique evening of imperial splendor!

Tickets for the opera at the Bellas Artes are a 200, 400, and 500 pesos donation, and are on sale through our website with no booking fee, at the bookshop in the Biblioteca Pública, and at the concert 45 minutes before performance time.

Details of all Pro Musica’s concerts and Patron Membership are on our website, www.promusicasma.org, or contact us at promusicasma@aol.com