Barrie Kosky's POPPEA

Described by a critic in Vienna as "group sex of the genres", Barrie Kosky’s shocking, debauched and delicious fantasy combines Monteverdi’s glorious baroque score with Cole Porter classics, which is played on stage by four musicians, including Kosky on piano. As in Monteverdi’s masterpiece which is set in ancient Rome, 65 A.D, where the most noble and virtuous characters wind up dead or deported, while the lustful and villainous are rewarded with wealth, power and passion, Poppea tells the story of the Emperor Nero and his ambitious and passion-driven lover, Poppea.

Featuring nudity, masturbation, blood and demented screeching, Nero (played by Kyrre Kvam) is a cross-dressing megalomaniac sex addict who ignores his advisors and gives in to his lust for Poppea. Australian actress, Melita Jurisic performs the title role as a scheming, silver-toothed whore, who manipulates Nero into divorcing his wife and ordering the death of his closest advisor, Seneca, so that she may be crowned Empress of Rome.

Interweaving two different musical idioms, ancient and modern, the evening starts with Cole Porter's Love for Sale and ends with the sublime and quietly passionate duet from Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea. This medley of classic, contemporary and burlesque, provides the juxtaposition needed to comment on the savage eroticism of Monteverdi’s baroque opera. Porter’s often cynical take on modern sex is summed up by the depraved Nero singing Every time I say goodbye, I die a little after some post-coital sadomasochism.

Australian born, Barrie Kosky is recognised as one of the most exciting and creative directors and writers of his generation. Working across the fields of opera, theatre and contemporary music theatre, his pioneering productions have always been bold and challenging.