• Bridewell Theatre (map)
  • 14 Bride Ln, Fleet St
  • London EC4Y 8EQ
  • UK

Nero Monologues

Performances dates: August 8, 11, 12 at the Bridewell Theatre in central London as part of the Opera in the City Festival.

A multi-art form pastiche chamber opera, Nero Monologues, journeys the inner workings of the first-century emperor of Rome during his final hour. In contrast to the common villainous portrayal of the young emperor, a closer look reveals Nero's artistic endeavours, which he considered his greatest mode of expression. This opera seeks to offer a humanised portrayal of Nero, and to explore a few of the influences and personal traumas that may have contributed to his tyrannical ruling. In addition to touching on some of the vile practices of Nero, the opera exposes familiar themes: abandonment, abuse, passion, sexual identity, love, political ideals, and power struggles. The question is also posed - can such a man change?

The tapestry of music used in Nero Monologues draws on familiar material by Monteverdi, Handel, and Copland, while unearthing excerpts from a György Kurtág rarity, The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza, sung in Hungarian. Also featured is the European premier of portions of Peter James Learn's Walt Whitman's Songs: That Which Fills its Place. The musical excerpts are layered with spoken poetry by celebrated Australian poet Geoffrey Lehmann, from his ground-breaking volume, Nero's poems: translations of the public and private poems of the Emperor Nero (1981). These gritty, exposed monologues from Nero's perspective both entertain and challenge the listener.

Nero Monologues is written for singer, dancer, piano, and string quartet. It is presented as a double bill with Even you, lights, cannot hear me - a new operatic spectacle composed by Simone Spagnolo, based on a monologue by Anton Chekov's The Seagull. 

Creator and Performer: Sarah Toth
Stage Director: Joyce Jin