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Music Text

Libretto by Jules Paul Barbier; German version by Richard Pohl (F,G)

Scoring

3S,2A,7T,5Bar,3B,4 silent roles,mimes; chorus; ballet; 2.picc.2.2.2.2-4.2.3.1-timp,perc-harpe-pianino-strings;
On-stage: 6trp;
Jugglers' orchestra: 2.2.2.2-2.0.0.0-timp.perc;
Military music: 2picc.2.2.2.2-4.2.3.1-timp.perc

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
11/1/1879
Stadttheater, Hamburg
Company: unknown

Roles

NERO CLAUDIUS, Emperor Tenor
JULIUS VINDEX, Prince of Aquitaine Baritone
TIGELLINUS, prefect of the Praetorians Baritone
BALBILLUS OF EPHESUS, seer Bass
SACCUS, poet Tenor
SEVIRUS, high priest in Evanda's temple Bass
TERPANDER, cythera player, Agrippina's freed slave Tenor
POPPAEA SABINA, Otho's wife, Nero's mistress Soprano
EPICHARIS, courtesan, a freed slave Contralto
CHRYSA, her daughter Soprano
AGRIPPINA, widow of emperor Claudius, Nero's mother Contralto
LUPUS, a Roman boy Soprano
CALPURNIUS PISO, conspirator Baritone
FAENIUS FUFUS, conspirator Baritone
SPORUS, conspirator Tenor
VALERIUS MESSALA, conspirator Tenor
The captain of a troupe of jugglers Tenor
Town crier Baritone
A fruit and beverages trader Tenor
Centurion Baritone
Emperor Claudius, Britannicus, Seneca, Burrus, Lucanus, Petronius, Octavia and others silent roles
Roman people, Priests, Actors, Dancers, Musicians, Christians, Slaves etc
Time and Place

In and around Rome, AD 59-68

Synopsis

The Emperor Nero enjoys the mob's acclaim; nobody dares to rise publicly against him. During his debaucheries he casts his eye on the virgin Chrysa; her mother Epicharis can only save her from being violated by a quick-acting sleeping drug. Agrippina kidnaps the girl who is believed to be dead, in order to regain the favour of her son Nero. Only Poppaea’s jealousy and Vindex's love save Chrysa again from the Emperor's repeated persecutions. Nero gives an order to set Rome on fire and to lay the blame upon the Christians. With Chrysa among them, the Christians are lynched by the Romans. Finally, Nero also loses the sympathy of his people and has to flee. In his madness, he sees the spirits of his victims appear before him, and in order to escape from the people's fury and from the Legions under the leadership of Vindex, who are rapidly approaching for revenge, Nero lets Saccus kill him. In the sky, the vision of a cross can be seen.

Moods

Dramatic, Romantic, Tragic

Subjects

History, Relationships, Religion, Society




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