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

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.

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

Sung in Italian with English surtitles.