Interview with Opera Program Stage Director Ken Cazan

The USC Thornton Opera Program’s Fall 2013 production of Claudio Monteverdi’s 17th-century masterpiece, L’incoronazione di Poppea, combines politics, sex and religion—the staples of all great opera—with the sublime Baroque music of one of the genre’s greatest masters.

The production concept for this timeless combines elements from a variety of periods. The costumes utilize modern clothing, with a hint of ancient Rome. Likewise, the set is a Roman wall reminiscent of theaters of the time. Preparing this opera presents many challenges: it is sung in conversational Italian, which requires young singers to deeply explore the characters and develop their relationships. The show requires singers to employ a vocal style unique to early operas, and asks them give equal attention and trust to both words and music.

“Our collaboration with the Thornton Early Music Program on this project was a no-brainer,” said Ken Cazan, stage director for USC Thornton Opera. “The program is very good with wonderful faculty and phenomenal young instrumentalists. In particular, the continuo players on Poppea provide the essential support required to make Monteverdi’s chatty music beautiful, sensual and sexy.”

There will be three performances of L’incoronazione di Poppea in Bing Theatre on the University Park Campus: November 20th and 22nd at 8:00 pm, and November 24th at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be obtained online from the USC Ticket Office.

On Friday, November 22, there will be a pre-performance discussion at 7:00 p.m. with Paul O’Dette of the Eastman School of Music, and the artistic team of resident stage director Ken Cazan, conductor Brent McMunn, and Early Music program director Adam Gilbert.

Interview with Opera Program Stage Director Ken Cazan