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2009 Event Media Release - Poppea

Issued 29 June, 2009

Directed by Barrie Kosky

6 – 22 August, Drama Theatre

“Kosky directs a magnificent cast with imagination and precision to create a chilling modern distillation of this most savagely cynical of operatic masterpieces”. The Telegraph, UK

Sydney Opera House in association with Sydney Theatre Company presents Barrie Kosky’s Poppea, based on Monteverdi’s final opera, L’Incoronazione Di Poppea for an exclusive three week season in the Drama Theatre from 6 to 22 August.

Described by a critic in Vienna as "group sex of the genres", Kosky’s delicious fantasy combines Monteverdi’s glorious baroque score with Cole Porter classics, performed on stage by an ensemble of musicians, including Kosky on piano. Originally created for Vienna’s Schauspielhaus, Poppea has also been presented in Berlin and the Edinburgh Festival.

Monteverdi’s masterpiece is set in ancient Rome where the most noble and virtuous characters wind up dead or deported and the lustful and villainous are rewarded with wealth, power and passion. Poppea tells the story of the Emperor Nero and his eponymous ambitious and passion-driven lover.

Kosky’s radical version of the original opera is sung, spoken, whispered and screamed by an astonishing cast of six singers and actors including Australian actress, Melita Jurisic in the title role.

Poppea manipulates Nero into divorcing his wife and ordering the death of his closest advisor, Seneca, so that she may be crowned Empress of Rome. Sex, passion and politics ensure the path to this union is bloody, passionate and sexy.

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 original opera.

This medley of classic, contemporary and burlesque, provides the juxtaposition needed to comment on the savage eroticism of Monteverdi’s work. 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.

He began his career in Melbourne in the 1990s where he created the Gilgul Theatre Company. Working with all the major Australian theatre and opera companies, Kosky was appointed the Director of the 1996 Adelaide Festival,  acclaimed as one of the most successful and groundbreaking Festivals ever presented.

In 2001 he was appointed to the position of Co-Artistic Director of Schauspielhaus in Vienna, a post he relinquished in October 2005 when he left to continue his freelance career in Europe.

His eight-hour Sydney Theatre Company production The Lost Echo was the winner of every major Australian theatre award in 2006. The Tell-Tale Heart won the 2008 Helpmann Award for Best Original Score.

Kosky lives in Berlin and has been appointed Artistic Director of famed opera house Komische Oper, a post he will take up in 2012.

Melita Jurisic, a mercurial actor/singer from Melbourne who is now based in Europe, has worked extensively with Kosky. Born in Croatia, Jurisic migrated to Australia with her family at five years, where she studied drama in Melbourne. Working across the stage and film spectrum, Jurisic is a ‘triple threat’ – an actor who can sing and dance.

Her official career started with a small part in ‘I can jump puddles’ quickly progressing to a variety of stage plays with Jim Sharman’s Lighthouse Company in Adelaide through to TV and film work including; The Flying Doctors, Bordertown, and The Tale of Ruby Rose.

In 2007, Jurisic was seen in Kosky’s ‘Women of Troy’ with Sydney Theatre Company, where she showcased her dramatic range performing all three leading roles.

As in Cole Porter’s song, Heaven knows, anything goes, Rome may be ruled by men, but where sex is power, it is the women who are in control.

6 – 22 August
Venue: Playhouse
Time: Wed - Sat 8pm, Sunday 5pm, Tuesday 6.30pm
Duration: 2 hours including one 20 minute interval
Tickets: $57 - $89
Language: Sung in German with English surtitles
Q & A: There will be a post-show Q&A after the 6.30pm show on 11 August. Barrie Kosky will take part in this discussion.
Warning: This production contains nudity and adult themes. Not suitable for children under 14 years

Sydney season produced by Arts Projects Australia

Claire Vince, Senior Publicist / 
W: 9250 7825 / mob: 0401 711 531


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