Playwright Mark Ravenhill To Direct Jazz Version of Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea; Rebecca Caine Stars

News   Playwright Mark Ravenhill To Direct Jazz Version of Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea; Rebecca Caine Stars
Mark Ravenhill, best known for his plays that include Shopping and Fucking and Mother Clap's Molly House, is to make his directing debut with a new jazz version of Monteverdi's 1640s opera The Coronation of Poppea. It will play at London's King's Head Theatre as part of its Little Opera House repertory season, beginning a run of ten initial performances April 5, prior to an official opening April 12, then running in rep with performances through May 19, with further dates to be announced.

Rebecca Caine
Rebecca Caine

The opera is described in press materials as "a tale of the triumphant adultery between Poppea and the Roman Emperor Nero." Ravenhill is associate director of OperaUpClose, and in a press statement he has commented, "I wanted to stage The Coronation of Poppea 'up close' because I thought it would benefit from an intimate setting. Monteverdi didn't write it for a big 19th-century opera house but for a more intimate theatre with a relatively small band. He didn't notate very much orchestration. For our production, Alex Silverman (whose Hamlet The Musical was a hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe), will be providing new arrangements for an ensemble of jazz instruments. It was one of the very first operas ever written — and probably the very first that was ever written about real people rather than mythical people/gods. Its first audience in the 1640s must have found it bracingly realistic. It is unusual because of the lack of conventional morality: the two cruellest people get the happy ending and sing a beautiful closing duet. I'm providing a new English translation and I've cut the piece back so that is about the seven principal characters and the complex web of love, lust, cross-dressing and murder which binds them together."

Rebecca Caine, who created the role of the adult Cosette in the original production of Les Miserables at the Barbican Theatre and has also played the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera in the original London and Canadian productions, will play Ottavia. She made her formal operatic debut at Glyndebourne as Amor in Peter Hall's production of Coronation of Poppea. More recently, she appeared in Salad Days at the Riverside Studios.

The cast also includes Tom Lowe (Arnalta), Jassy Husk (Drusilla), Jessica Walker (Nero), David Sheppard (Ottone), Zoe Bonner (Poppea), Adam Kowalczyk (Liberto/Soldier) and Marcin Gesla (Seneca).

OperaUpClose, co-founded by artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher and producer Ben Cooper, is dedicated to presenting new, challenging and classic operas in intimate spaces using young world-class trained singers and directors.

To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7478 0160, or visit

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