Nero in Opera: Librettos as Transformations of Ancient Sources
This book considers the story of Nero and Octavia, as told in the pseudo-Senecan Octavia and the works of ancient historiographers, and its reception in (early) modern opera and some related examples of other performative genres. In total the study assembles more than 30 performative texts (including 22 librettos), ranging chronologically from L'incoronazione di Poppea in 1642/43 until the early 20th century, and provides detailed information on all of them. In a close examination of the libretto (and dramatic) texts, the study shows the impact and development of this fascinating story from the beginnings of historical opera onwards. The volume demonstrates the various transformations of the characters of Nero and his wives and of the depiction of their relationship over the centuries, and it looks at the tension between “historical” elements and genre conventions. The book is therefore of relevance to literary scholars as well as to readers interested in the evolution of Nero’s image in present-day media.