“The greatest and most daring crimes are not the product of ordinary men, but of a noble spirit corrupted by a perverted education” — Pausanias quoting Plato


“Nero” is a collaborative effort to create an original chamber opera about one of Rome’s most notorious emperors. Keeping true to historical accuracy, but with a modern take on the biography of this victim of history, the libretto is in Classical Latin and the score fuses Ancient Roman and Neo-Romantic music.


The Latin term artifex was the chosen subtitle for this work because of its double meaning as “artist” and “artisan.” Therefore, Nero’s famous quote Qualis artifex pereo, often translated as What an artist dies in me, most likely meant to express the emperor’s tragic demise: What a mere artisan I perish! This dichotomy is the foundation of the opera — it is the story of an artist, who wasn’t allowed to be an artist, of a man who ruled the world but had no control over his own life, of a well-meaning but incapable emperor torn to pieces by the selfish agendas and malevolent schemes of those around him.

With a cast of ten, orchestra of twenty, chorus and dancers “Nero” is shaping to be one of the largest student productions of the academic year. Director David Kellett and composer and producer Theo Popov are anticipating a compact rehearsal period starting the second week of February and spanning until the performances on March 24th and 25th in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall on the Princeton University Campus.