The Coronation of Poppea
CHAN 3172
The Sunday Telegraph
‘There will be delight at the issue by the Peter Moores Foundation of the BBC recording of Poppea from the Coliseum on November 27 1971.  Raymond Leppard’s romanticized orchestration is out of fashion, but it put Monteverdi back on the map and introduced large audiences to this and other masterpieces.  Janet Baker is in her prime as Poppea and she is supported by a cast including Katherine Pring as a noble Ottavia.’
Dramma musicale in a Prologue and two acts
Libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello
English translation by Geoffrey Dunn
The Cast
Prologue
  Barbara Walker, soprano - Fortune
  Shirley Chapman, soprano - Virtue
  Elizabeth Gale, soprano - Love 

Opera
  Tom McDonnell, baritone - Ottone
  Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano - Poppea
  Robert Ferguson, tenor - Nero
  Katherine Pring, mezzo-soprano - Ottavia
  Barbara Walker, soprano - Drusilla
  Clifford Grant, bass - Seneca
  Anne Collins, mezzo-soprano - Arnalta
  Emile Belcourt, tenor - Lucano
  John Brecknock, tenor - Valletto
  Iris Saunders, soprano - Damigella
  Norman Welsby baritone - Liberto
  Robin Donald, tenor - First soldier
  John Delaney, tenor - Second soldier
  Anthony Davey, bass - Lictor
  Shirley Chapman, soprano - Pallas Athene

Chorus of Sadler's Wells Opera
  Orchestra of Sadler's Wells Opera
  Raymond Leppard - conductor
Recorded at the London Coliseum

Broadcast on 27 November 1971
Gramophone
‘This is a pleasant surprise... Leppard’s souped-up Monteverdi is richly enjoyable... the whole is a superb piece of ensemble work from a vanished age. Baker catches the languor and the selfish ambition of this unpleasant character with subtly varied tone. As the wronged but equally vicious empress Ottavia - the part one would have expected Baker to have taken - Katherine Pring more than holds her own... And the diction! Put down the libretto, listen, and weep for what was.’
BBC Music Magazine

4 stars
‘Raymond Leppard made this live recording, having performed Monteverdi’s Poppea for ten years. His exceptional musicality brought major benefits: he infused the rhythms with flexibility and drive; and he elaborated the accompaniments in ways that made the actions and the words especially vivid. Leppard also tried to reach out to contemporary audiences... he reduced the three acts to two, and changed some of the voice types. Janet Baker’s incredibly sophisticated portrayal of Poppea reveals that the work is as much about power as sex... In historical terms, this recording stands as a powerful and attractive monument to those epoch-making clashes between musicality and musicology that kick-started the early music boom to the benefit of all.’
The Guardian
‘... this is one of the most intelligent performances of the role in sound, revealing layers of calculation and cruelty beneath the woman's surface sensuality.’