Michael Hersch: Poppaea

Michael Hersch: Poppaea

fcr390 (New Focus Recordings, CD, 2 discs)

FIRST RELEASE (23 February 2024)

Playing time: 101'03"
Tracks: 9 + 7
℗ 2024 New Focus Recordings
© 2024 New Focus Recordings
Main country of recording: Switzerland
Reviewer: John Dante Prevedini
Review of Michael Hersch: Poppaea published on 12 June 2024

Ah Young Hong, soprano
Steve Davislim, tenor
Silke Gäng, mezzo-soprano
Ensemble SoloVoices
Ensemble Phoenix Basel
Jürg Henneberger, conductor

Michael Hersch: Poppaea (2019, to a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann)


1 Prologue
2 Overture
3 Scene I - New Life
4 Scene II - The Wedding
5 Scene III - Adultery
6 Scene IV - Octavia is Innocent
7 Interlude I
8 Scene V - Octavia
9 Scene VI - Poppaea Witnesses Octavia's Death


1 Scene VII - Milk Bath
2 Interlude II
3 Scene VIII - Claudia Augusta
4 Scene IX - Nero's Lament
5 Scene X - The Great Fire
6 Scene XI - After the Fire
7 Scene XII - This World

A nominee for the 2023 Austrian Music Theater Prize for Best Contemporary Music Theater, Michael Hersch's epic setting of Poppaea turns the classic tale of Nero inside out, examining it from multiple angles and unearthing the powerful lessons it holds for contemporary society. Hersch, along with vocalists Ah Young Hong, Steve Davislim, Silke Gäng, with Ensemble Phoenix Basel and Ensemble SoloVoices, delivers a wrenching version of the tale, challenging assumptions and forcing the listener to ask difficult questions about history and the inherent biases that are ingrained into its mainstream understanding.

Recorded live on 10 September 2021 at Don Bosco Basel, Basel, Switzerland.