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The Coronation of Poppea was first performed at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice during the 1643 carnival season. The Coronation of Poppea is a story of inverse morality, in which virtue is punished and greed is rewarded. During the opera, Poppea and Nero’s adulterous relationship is able to triumph over everyone who stands in their way, via murder, deception, and exile.
Poppea is one of the first ever operas to be based on real historical events and people, using Tacitus, Suetonius, and other Roman historians as its sources. The original audience would have recognized from their knowledge of Roman history that this apparently triumphant love was, in reality, hollow, as not long after this event Nero killed his pregnant wife Poppea, and later committed suicide himself.
The final duet of The Coronation of Poppea ‘Pur ti miro, pur ti godo’ – ‘I gaze at you, I possess you’- is considered to be one of the most beautiful love duets ever written, This is the moment when Nero is finally able to make Poppea his bride and Empress, and together they celebrate their victory and love for each other.
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