University Opera presents Monteverdi’s “The Coronation of Poppea” in November

Love, lust, betrayal, and large dose of political corruption in Ancient Rome – University Opera’s production of Claudio Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea

 This fall, University Opera immerses itself in the seventeenth century, presenting three performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s masterpiece, The Coronation of Poppea, written in 1643.  November 16 at 7:30pm, November 18 at 2:00pm, and November 20 at 7:30pm.  David Ronis, director of University Opera, will direct, and Chad Hutchinson, interim director of orchestras, will conduct.  Musical preparation will be by UW-Madison vocal coach Daniel Fung.  Guest artist Christa Patton will lead the continuo and serve as Baroque style coach for the production.

Buy tickets here.

Considered opera’s earliest masterpiece, The Coronation of Poppea takes us to world where virtue is punished, and ruthlessness and ambition are rewarded, to a republic in which the Head of State behaves very badly. Roman Emperor Nero and his ambitious consort Poppea have no compunction about sweeping aside anyone who stands in the way of their union – including Nero’s wife Ottavia and his teacher, the philosopher Seneca.  After all is said and done, Poppea is crowned Empress as the couple rejoices in one of the most beautiful duets ever written.  This compelling drama, filled with stunningly gorgeous music, features a large cast of UW-Madison students accompanied by an ensemble of authentic period instruments, played by students, faculty, and guest artists.

Above: Aria from The Coronation of Poppea, on “Mid-Century Baroque Opera, Google Sites

Director Ronis is thrilled to be bringing this important work to Madison audiences. “The Coronation of Poppea is basically a story about a group of horrible people doing terrible things to each other – it’s true!  You might ask, why do such a piece?  Good question.  There is always something to be learned by seeing human behavior at its best AND at its worst.  And the contemporary resonance in this opera is unavoidable.  But it’s also a fantastic piece of musical drama which moves our hearts and minds.”

“It’s also particularly exciting to be presenting POPPEA in the intimacy of the Music Hall, where harpischord, theorbo, baroque harp, organ, strings, and recorders will create an authentic sound world characteristic of the seventeenth century.  For this production, we will not be using the orchestra pit.  Instead, the small orchestra will be placed on the auditorium floor, visible to the audience.”

The large cast features Talia Engstrom and Anja Pustaver in the title role, as well as Thomas Aláan and Benjamin Hopkins alternating as Emperor Nero.  The production will include Jing Liu and Cayla Rosché as Ottavia, Benjamin Galvin as Seneca, Kevin Green as Ottone, Kelsey Wang as Drusilla, Emily Vandenberg as Amor, Thore Dosdall as Arnalta, Miranda Kettlewell as Valetto, Elisheva Pront as Damigella, Amanda Lauricella and Angela Peterson as Fortuna, Shaddai Solidum as Virtù, Andrew Turner as Liberto, Jiabao Zhang as Liberto, Lauren Shafer as Pallade, and Jake Elfner as Littore.  UW-Madison Professor of Voice Mimmi Fulmer will be featured in role of Nutrice.

The production is designed by Greg Silver with lighting by Aimee Hanyzewski.  Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park ar  the costume designers, Lydia Berggruen the props designer, Matt Chastain the assistant director, and the production stage manager is Delaney Egan.  Others on the production staff include Benjamin Hopkins, operations manager for University Opera; Josie Annelin, assistant stage manager; Alice Combs, master electrician; and Ethan White, lighting board operator.

We will hold one pre-performance panel discussion on November 16, 2018, 6:00 – 7:00 PM, Music Hall. Admission is free.
Marc Kleijwegt – Professor of History, UW-Madison
Daniel Kapust – Professor of Political Theory, UW-Madison
Christa Patton – Baroque Harpist, Continuo Leader, and Baroque Style Consultant
David Ronis – Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, UW-Madison
Susan Cook, Director of the Mead Witter School of Music, Moderator

Tickets are $25.00 for the general public, $20.00 for senior citizens and $10.00 for UW-Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at the Union Theater Box Office. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 12:00-5:00 p.m. and the Vilas Hall Box Office, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and after 5:30 p.m. on University Theatre performance evenings.  Because shows often sell out, advance purchase is recommended. If unsold tickets remain, they may be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance.  The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in the Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.

University Opera is a cultural service of the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose mission is to provide comprehensive operatic training and performance opportunities for our students and operatic programming to the community. For more information, please contact Or visit the School of Music’s web site at