L'incoronazione di Poppea

staging and set for Monteverdi’s opera – Opera Stabile Hamburg (DE), November 2017


Monteverdi’s last opera dramatizes the conflict between the Roman emperor Nero and the Stoic philosopher Seneca. He criticizes Nero’s disregarding behaviour towards his wife Ottavia and warns him not to flirt with the younger Poppea. Nero turns a deaf ear to these accusations and settles the case by forcing Seneca to commit suicide. The only thing that prevents him from marrying Poppea is the presence of Ottavia … A problem that can be solved.

Mien Bogaert interpreted Seneca as an Andy Warhol-like character: “both men identify as an artist and a philosopher, both men were nothing at the start of their lives but quickly managed to get to the top of the society, both men were fascinated by an unreachable woman: Ottavia and Marilyn Monroe”. Warhol considered his art a mirror of society and had a strong dislike for political statements. In his silk screen paintings, he sheds light on the drawbacks of the life of a star like Marilyn Monroe. His reproductions turned her into an icon. At the same time, the troubled personality of Marilyn Monroe disappeared behind the fiction of public appearance. In Mien Bogaert’s staging of L’incoronazione di Poppea, Seneca and Ottavia experience a similar conflict. Ottavia’s remaining silent and looking on passively ends in isolation and death. At the end of the opera, when reason is replaced by arbitrary violence, the question arises if the intelligentsia – and its art – could have prevented a political disaster like Nero. Or did the intelligentsia with its behaviour just trigger events like Nero’s rise to power?


Justus Tennie, conductor
Mien Bogaert, stage direction and set
Florian Parkitny, costumes
Pia-Rabea Vornholt, dramaturgy


Immanuel Klein, Seneca
Joël Vuik, Nerone
Judith Österreicher, Poppea
Ascelina Klee, Ottavia
Masanori Hatsuse, Valletto / Lucano / Liberto
Franziska Buchner, Tom Kessler, Moritz Vieth, famigliari
Ingmar Grapenbrade, actor
Mostafa Ahmadi, Paul-Louis Lelièvre, Torsten Mendach, extras
Instrumentalists of the HfMT Hamburg


November 1, 2017 at Hamburg State Opera (Opera Stabile) (DE)
November 3, 2017 at Hamburg State Opera (Opera Stabile) (DE)
November 4, 2017 at Hamburg State Opera (Opera Stabile) (DE)
November 5, 2017 at Hamburg State Opera (Opera Stabile) (DE)