NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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The Coronation of Poppea

Music by
Claudio Monteverdi | Elena Kats-Chernin AO

Libretto by
Giovanni Busenello

Conducted by
Stephen Mould

Directed by
David Berthold

21 Oct – 28 Oct 2023
3hrs including 20 minutes interval

About the show

A co-production of NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Australian Premiere

The Coronation of Poppea – one of the great music dramas – charts the erotic and brutal politics of Nero’s Rome. Emperor Nero and his new love Poppea ruthlessly sweep aside anyone who stands in the way of their union. In this bloodthirsty drama, love triumphs. But at what cost?

This is the Australian premiere of a new version of Monteverdi’s great work, by the Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin. First seen in Berlin, this is a Poppea  that constantly surprises with new instrumentation and insights.

This NIDA and Sydney Conservatorium of Music Co-production features singers and orchestra from the Conservatorium and design, costume, props and effects, technical theatre and stage management, and scenic construction technology work from NIDA students.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Content Notice: Depictions of suicide, sexual depictions, mentions and depictions of sexual assault, violence, blood, loud noises, gun shots, and smoke/haze effects.

David Berthold is one of Australia's most prominent theatre directors and cultural leaders. As a theatre director, he has directed for most of Australia's major theatres companies, as well as in London and Berlin. As an artistic director, he has led transformational change at several significant arts organisations.

As Director in Residence at NIDA since January 2020, he leads artistic planning, including the curation of the 2020 Digital Theatre Festival of six major interactive new works made for various digital platforms, and partnerships with organisations such as XR studio New Canvas. He was Artistic Director of the $22m multidisciplinary international arts festival Brisbane Festival (2015-19) – which is Queensland’s highest attended event – Artistic Director and CEO, La Boite Theatre Company (2008-14), Artistic Director and CEO, Griffin Theatre Company (2003-2006), Artistic Director and CEO, Australian Theatre for Young People (1999-2003), and Associate Director, Sydney Theatre Company (1994-99).

He is also on the Board of Australian Plays Transform (APT), a Trustee of the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award, a member of the Helpmann Awards Theatre Panel, a member of the NSW Government's Theatre and Musical Theatre Arts Advisory Board, chairs the judging panel of the Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting (NSW Premier’s Literary Awards), and recently sat on the QUT Creative Industries Faculty Advisory Committee.

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Elena Kats-Chernin AO came to Australia in 1975 and studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music till 1980. She graduated as a pianist and composer, playing her own Piano Concerto with the Conservatorium orchestra conducted by Dr Ron Smart.

After many years studying and working in Germany, she returned to Sydney in 1994. Since then, she has created works in nearly every genre, from orchestral compositions to chamber and choral, among them pieces for Ensemble Modern, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, all major Australian symphony orchestras, as well as several operas for Komische Oper, Opera Australia and Philharmonie Luxembourg, among others.

Her music featured at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. She has received several awards, among them the Sounds Australian Award in 1996 for Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti as well as Green Room and Helpmann Awards in 2004 for her score to Meryl Tankard's Wild Swans (Australian Ballet). She has also been awarded the Sidney Myer Award.

Her Russian Rag was used as Max's theme in the 2009 claymation Mary and Max, by Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot. It has also been the theme for Late Night Live on ABC Radio National for many years.

Her most recent premiere was as a pianist/composer in Kairos, a dance piece choreographed by Meryl Tankard for the FORM Dance, as part of Sydney Festival 2023.

Elena’s music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Performance Dates

Saturday 21 October 2023, 7:00pm
Tuesday 24 October 2023, 2:00pm
Thursday 26 October 2023, 7:00pm
Saturday 28 October 2023, 2:00pm

Runtime: 3h including 20 minutes interval

Act 1 1: 33

Interval 20 mins

Act 2 1:10


In order of appearance

La Virtù Leyang Hong
La Fortuna Georgia Cooper
Amore Megan Kim
Ottone Ellena Hicks
Poppea Eden Shifroni
Nerone Daniel Ott
Arnalta Michael Kaufmann
Ottavia Sophie Mohler
Nutrice Angus Ledgerwood
Valletto Younji Yi
Seneca Aidan O’Donnell
Drusilla Anastasia Gall
Liberto Jianbo Sun
Seneca’s Friend Mathew Hilberts
Seneca’s Friend Michael Kaufmann
Seneca’s Friend Daniel Kramer
Damigella Galatea Kneat

Oboe Alex Tsang
Oboe Gareth Chavand
Alto Saxophone Ryan Piccione
Tenor / Baritone Saxophone Skye Fyfe
Trumpet Jude Macarthur
Trumpet Tilly Dearden
Cimbasso James Reeson
Percussion Ruhani Dhillon
Percussion Bryn Wood
Viola Sarah Zhu
Viola Julian Kwok
Viola Zifu Zhang
Cello Cadence Ing
Cello Emilie Choi
Double Bass Alexandra Thompson
Keyboard 1 Alan Hicks
Keyboard 2 Hans Sangtoki
Guitar Roberto Faber Steyer
Guitar Joseph Littlefield
Cello William Thorpe

Creative Team

Conductor Stephen Mould***
Director David Berthold**
Movement Director Sally Dashwood*
Set/Props Designer Rebecca Howarth
Costume Designer Cosette Mangas
Lighting/Video Designer Izzy Morrissey
Fight Choreographer Troy Honeysett
Armourer Gideon Marshall
Intimacy Consultant Chloe Dallimore* and Caroline Casper*

Producer Scott Ryan***
Assistant Conductor Omid Moheb-Zadeh***
Principal Repetiteur/Italian Coach Alan Hicks***
Repetiteur Ingrid Sakurovs**
Artistic Operations Manager Tom Westley***
Stage Production Coordinator Thomas Wade***
Orchestra Manager Ben Collinge***
Technical Manager Madeleine Picard
Production Stage Manager India Lively
Deputy Stage Manager Yasmin Breeze
Assistant Stage Managers Guinevere Fisher and Matthew Phillips
Construction Manager Tommaso Patelli
Costume Supervisors Nina Price
Properties Supervisor Ari Gilbert
Associate Head Electrician Dana Spence**, Nik Lyons** and Cameron (Doris) Bartie**
Lighting Programmer Ryan McDonald*
Assistant Lighting Programmer Holly Nesbitt
Automation Nathan Lockyer
Costume Coordinator Tamsyn Balogh Caristo*
Costume Makers Jaspa Frankish, Kit Moore, Danielle Schache and Giulia Zandaro

Set/Props Asst. Designer Isaac Valentine
Costume Asst. Designer Mia MacCormick
Set Assistants Eadie Doosey Shaw, Michael Fisher and Zoe Howard
Costume Assistants Rapheala Kuhn and Jessica Marshall
Properties Assistants Oliver Gregg
Lighting Operator Carol Gonzales
Floor Electrician Poppy Townsend
Dome Operators Thomas Hamilton and Jasmine Power
Technical Secondment Alicia Badger
Technical Assistants Archer Dametto, Chaii Ki Chapman, Harry Smyth, Niamh Nolland, Taylah Crouch and Thomas Shepherd
Sustainability Coordinator Madeleine Picard
Surtitles Operator Thomas Bruce***

Special thanks to 65 Productions, Chris Milburn, Brian Scott, Maria Zouros and Sam Scott

* Guest  ** Staff  ***Sydney Conservatorium of Music Staff