Composers Datebook®

A modern Monteverdi premiere

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) –L'incoronazione di Poppea (soloists; Vienna Concentus Music Vienna; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond.) Teldec 42547


Composer's Datebook - 20220629

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June 29, 2022

Synopsis

The reign of the Roman emperor Nero, notorious for his horrific deeds, was chronicled by the historian Tacitus. His account of the rise of the courtesan Poppea from Nero’s mistress to his empress, provides the plot of one of the operas written by the 17th century Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi.

Monteverdi’s “The Coronation of Poppea” was first performed in Venice at the Teatro Sanctae Giovanni e Paolo in the autumn of 1643.

The first performance of Monteverdi’s “Poppea” in modern times had to wait until 1913, when the French composer Vincent d’Indy presented his arrangement of “Poppea” in Paris. In America and Britain, “Poppea” was first staged in 1927, at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and at Oxford University in England. It wasn’t until today’s date in 1962 that a full professional staging of “Poppea” occurred at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, in a version prepared and conducted by Raymond Leppard.

Monteverdi did not prescribe specific vocal ranges for the characters, and since there was no standardized orchestra in the 17th century, it was customary back then to simply give a list of some suggested instruments and leave it to the performers to decide who played what and when. Therefore, any MODERN performance of a Monteverdi opera is always somebody’s “version” of the surviving notes, based on educated guesswork and the available performers.

Music Played in Today's Program

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) –L'incoronazione di Poppea (soloists; Vienna Concentus Music Vienna; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond.) Teldec 42547

On This Day

Births

  • 1908 - American composer Leroy Anderson, in Cambridge, Massachusetts;

  • 1910 - American songwriter and musical composer Frank Loesser, in New York City;

  • 1911 - American composer and conductor Bernard Herrmann, in New York City;

  • 1914 - Czech-born Swiss conductor and composer, Rafael Kubelik, in Bychiory, near Kolin;

  • 1924 - American composer Ezra Laderman, in Brooklyn, New York;

Deaths

  • 1744 - French composer André Campra, c. 83, at Versailles;

  • 1941 - Polish pianist and composer Ignace Jan Paderewski , age 80, in New York City; Buried at Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia (pending the liberation of Poland during WWII) by order of President Roosevelt; He was reburied with honors in Warsaw on June 30, 1992.

Premieres

  • 1888 - Wagner: "Die Feen" (The Fairies), in Munich at the Hoftheater; Wagner composed this opera in 1834;

  • 1889 - Glazunov: Symphony No. 2, in Paris;

  • 1951 - Leroy Anderson: "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" and "Fiddle-Faddle" at a Decca recording session in New York City, with the composer conducting; (See also June 28);

  • 1962 - first modern professional staging of Moneteverdi’s opera "L’Incoronazione di Poppea" (The Coronation of Poppea) at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, in a version prepared and conducted by Raymond Leppard; The opera premiered in Venice in the autumn of 1642; The opera’s first stagings in the 20th century were both student productions: Smith College in Northampton, Mass, on April 27, 1927 and Oxford University, on Dec. 6, 1927;

  • 1985 - Joan Tower: "Island Rhythms" (commissioned for the opening of Harbour Island in Tampa), by the Florida Orchestra, Irwin Hoffman, conducting;

  • 1997 - Esa-Pekka Salonen: "Giro" (revised version) for orchestra, in Porvoo (Finland), by the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer;

Others

  • 1729 - Handel returns to London after a trip to the continent to recruit new singers for a new season of Royal Academy opera productions directed by Handel and Heidegger (Gregorian date: July 10); Earlier in the month, when in Halle, Germany, Handel had been invited by W.F. Bach to visit J.S. Bach in Leipzig, but Handel declines;

  • 1769 - First documented concert in Boston conducted by the Early American composer Josiah Flagg with his militia band.