Love. Vengeance. Ambition. Murder. YouTube.
This week, the Desautels Chamber Opera Group at the University of Manitoba performs one of the early masterpieces in the repertoire in an entirely modern form of presentation.
L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea) premiered on stage in Venice in 1643 and on Thursday, February 10, a new production is set to premiere on the digital stage of YouTube.
“In essence it’s a love story,” says soprano Sofia Escamilla. “With a bit of manipulation sprinkled in there and some murder,” she adds with a chuckle.
Performing two roles, Fortuna and Arnalta, the international student from Mexico is currently working towards a Masters in Vocal Performance at the Desautels Faculty of Music.
“Because of COVID, we hadn’t been singing a lot, especially in an ensemble,” says Escamilla. “It’s been just amazing working on (the Coronation of Poppea).”
For fellow international graduate student, cellist Luis Almeida of Brazil, the opera has been a welcome addition to a rigorous schedule.
“In my first weeks here, I started to work to work on this production so I think that was a really great start,” says Almeida, who arrived in Winnipeg this past September.
Performing as part of the continuo section, Almeida along with two others — keyboardist Megan Dufrat and guitarist/electronics John Himes — provide instrumental support and response to the singers.
“Sometimes you need to even anticipate a little bit some melodies and some phrases just to really match all the ideas that the singer is thinking of in that moment,” explains Almeida. “It’s tricky, but (when it works) is super nice. It’s a great experience for any musician.”
The Coronation of Poppea premieres Thursday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. and will be available to stream on-demand through March 31, 2022.