Published: April 24, 2015 By

poppea

Paul Kroeger as Nero and Sara Lin Yoder in the title role are stunning in the CU Eklund Opera's production of "Coronation of Poppea." (Glenn J. Asakawa / University of Colorado)

Make no mistake about it. The University of Colorado Eklund Opera Program's production of Claudio Monteverdi's "The Coronation of Poppea," opening tonight at the Imig Music Theater, is one of its best productions in recent memory, an astonishing accomplishment that will leave audiences in awe.

But those audiences should know that it requires patience. Even though music director Nicholas Carthy has arranged and adapted the 1643 score in a performing version specific for this production and these student performers, this is still an opera from the genre's very earliest days. The 17th century vocal styles can seem monotonous at times, as can the rather unvaried timbre of the accompaniment.

But patience was amply rewarded at dress rehearsals Monday and Tuesday.

Midway through the first act, the ear has adapted to the style, the subtle emotional nuances of the singing come into clearer focus and the gripping drama — enhanced by director Leigh Holman's visually arresting concept and a truly gorgeous set — takes center stage. Even a seemingly random flirtation scene between two servants becomes a highlight.

This was the essence of Monteverdi's aesthetic, something that became lost in the next couple of centuries — that the music was there to serve the text and the drama.

This story originally appeared in the Daily Camera. Read the full story.