I have been a fan of opera for as long as I can remember, and Verdi is my favourite composer of them all. Simon Boccanegra is not my favourite Verdi opera, I prefer La Traviata, Don Carlo, Otello, Rigoletto and Aida, but it was one of those recent discoveries that I was quite taken with.
The story is convoluted in a sense, particularly with the idea that Amelia and Simon decide not to tell anyone that they're father and daughter, but it is also quite compelling. The characters engage too, especially the title character who has a certain complexity to him, and while not the Verdi opera particularly for show-stopping arias the music is wonderful. I am particularly taken with Orfanella in Tetto Umile, and also Plebe, Patrizi, the final scene and also Fiesco's big aria.
Prior to seeing this La Scala production, I saw two productions, both from the Met, one from 1984 which was wonderful, and one from 1995 which was very, very good. This one from 1978 is outstanding and possibly my favourite so far of the Simon Boccanegra productions I've seen.
The costumes and sets are somewhat old-fashioned, but also atmospheric and effective. The lighting and video directing are also without major faults, I especially felt the lighting in the prologue added to the tone of the story. The orchestra are wonderful, as is the conducting from Claudio Abbado.
The performances are exceptional. My favourite was Nicolai Ghiaurov as Fiesco, I may be biased though but the more I hear and see of this great bass the more I love and admire him. He is superb in the role, in fact right now it is one of my personal favourite roles of his alongside King Phillip(Don Carlo) and Gremin(Eugene Onegin). His voice is rich and noble combined with excellent legato, and his acting firm.
Also outstanding are Piero Cappuccilli and Mirella Freni, particularly Cappuccilli in the title role. He has quickly become one of my favourite baritones thanks to his beautiful, striking voice and brilliant technique, and he perfectly portrays this complex, intriguing character shining especially in Plebe Patrizi and the final scene.
Mirella Freni has always been my favourite soprano. She is riveting as Amelia, her singing is wonderful with promising musicality, gorgeous soft singing and a beautiful tone, and she has an alluring presence throughout. I also found her singing in Orfanella in Tetto Umile that of genuine pathos, which made her interpretation even more moving.
Of the leads, coming off least as I did find with the 1984 production- in the 1995 production Domingo is by far the most believable Gabriele Adorno I've seen- is Veriano Luchetti. His voice is wonderful, his acting just so-so.
In conclusion, an outstanding production. 10/10 Bethany Cox
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this