The Coronation of Poppea
About the show
Music by Claudio Monteverdi and Elena Kats-Chernin AO
Libretto by Giovanni Busenello
A co-production of NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Conducted by Stephen Mould
Directed by David Berthold
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 in German, this is a Poppea (restored here to its original Italian), that constantly surprises with new instrumentation and insights.
Elena Kats-Chernin AO is one of Australia’s leading composers and has reached millions of listeners worldwide through her prolific catalogue of works for theatre, opera, ballet, orchestra and chamber ensemble. For the inauguration of Barrie Kosky’s directorship of the Komische Oper Berlin, she arranged all three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas. Her opera, Whiteley, based on the life of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley, premiered for Opera Australia in 2019.
Stephen Mould is Associate Professor in Conducting, Opera Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium, and Artistic Director of the Conservatorium Opera. He has conducted for most state orchestras and opera companies in Australia. His books are published by Routledge (2021) and Cambridge University Press (2021). He is the recipient of an Australia Research Council DECRA award, researching the operatic culture in Australia over the next three years.
David Berthold is the Artistic Director in Residence at NIDA. He was Artistic Director of Brisbane Festival (2015-19), Artistic Director of La Boite Theatre Company (2008-14), Artistic Director of Griffin Theatre Company (2003-2006) and has directed productions for most of Australia's major theatres companies, as well as in London and Berlin.
About the composer
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.
About the director
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.