Baroque opera is an acquired taste, but in the case of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, it shouldn’t be too hard to acquire. Grand soap opera 1642 style, the deliciously seamy story revolves around the beautiful, greedy Poppea, mistress of the dissolute Emperor Nero, who’ll stop at nothing to get that crown. Full of intrigue and political and moral corruption, Poppea is the earliest opera to be based on historical figures, and its timeless observations of human nature at its most base make it applicable to any age. L.A. Opera presents Pierre Audi’s acclaimed production of this rarely heard 17th-century masterpiece, conducted by baroque specialist Harry Bicket; the all-star cast includes mezzo-soprano Susan Graham as Poppea, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade as the Empress Octavia, tenor Kurt Streit as Nero, and countertenor David Daniels as Poppea’s jealous jilted lover, Ottone. Of course, Daniels, whose amazing range goes from soprano to baritone, would make a great Poppea too, but we’ll save that for the drag version. Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; opens Sat., Nov. 25, 7 p.m.; runs thru Dec. 16; $30-$220. (213) 972-8001 or

—Mary Beth Crain

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