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Performances

28 Jan 2005

Poppea at Palais Garnier

Parisians do not like camp. David McVicar’s production of Monteverdi’s last opera was jeered in October at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and now David Alden has met the same fate. This is unfair because his use of radical kitsch is altogether more sophisticated and his manipulation of the singers faultlessly choreographed. In any case, this classic staging dates from 1997, when it was first seen in Cardiff and Munich. McVicar’s approach now looks like a pale copy of an industry template.

L'incoronazione di Poppea Paris Opera (Garnier)

By Francis Carlin [Financial Times]
Published: January 28 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 28 2005 02:00

Parisians do not like camp. David McVicar's production of Monteverdi's last opera was jeered in October at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and now David Alden has met the same fate. This is unfair because his use of radical kitsch is altogether more sophisticated and his manipulation of the singers faultlessly choreographed. In any case, this classic staging dates from 1997, when it was first seen in Cardiff and Munich. McVicar's approach now looks like a pale copy of an industry template.

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Un Monteverdi shakespearien

[28 janvier 2005] [Le Figaro]

Les premières se suivent et ne se ressemblent pas à l'Opéra de Paris. Le surlendemain d'une pénible Flute enchantée, Gérard Mortier nous invitait à un grand moment de fascination théâtrale avec le Couronnement de Poppée de Monteverdi, dans une mise en scène de David Alden qui avait déjà triomphé à Munich. Dans les fascinants décors de Paul Steinberg (ce damier aux perspectives fuyantes !), Alden réalise une mise en scène formidablement musicale, ou chaque geste est en adéquation avec le rythme dramatique de Monteverdi. Dans une sorte de palace de luxe stylisé, les personnages habillés à la façon jet set du XXe siècle, existent avec une force d'attraction et de répulsion irrésistible. De chanteurs d'opéra, on a fait de grands acteurs, capables de jouer la comédie et la tragédie, le burlesque et la violence : un jeu physique et sensuel, c'est bien le moins pour le plus érotique des opéras du répertoire.

Ce Néron hagard, incapable de maîtriser ses pulsions, cette Poppée femme fatale qui le tient sous sa dépendance sexuelle et mène les autres par le bout du nez, ces femmes au bord de la crise de nerfs qui cassent leur talon, on ne les oubliera pas. Alden en fait des figures shakespeariennes, n'hésitant pas à outrer ce mélange des genres qui rend Monteverdi si audacieux. Mais Alden reste attentif au point d'équilibre entre grotesque et gravité, entre onirisme et réalisme. Le personnage de Sénèque retrouve ainsi le juste dosage entre véritable compassion et raillerie d'un philosophe alcoolique et sentencieux, dont les disciples serviles notent chaque phrase avec une frénésie ridicule. Bien des images nous resteront, non pour leur seule beauté plastique, mais pour leur expressivité : quand le décor s'évacue pour laisser Poppée s'endormir sur fond vert (magnifiques lumières de Pat Collins), quand Octavie fait ses adieux nus pieds en robe noire, quand l'horloge de Chronos vient surveiller les amants réunis, le temps suspend son vol.

Click here for remainder of review.

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