The Metropolitan Opera – Simon Boccanegra

Simon Boccanegra – Opera in a prologue and three acts [Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and Arrigo Boito after the play by Antonio Garcia Gutiérrez; sung in Italian with English Met Titles by Sonya Haddad]

Paolo Albani – Vassily Gerello
Pietro – Richard Bernstein
Simon Boccanegra – Mark Delavan
Jacopo Fiesco [also known as Andrea Grimaldi] – Ferruccio Furlanetto
Maria, daughter of Simon Boccanegra [also known as Amelia Grimaldi] – Angelo Marambio
Gabriele Adorno – Marcus Haddock
Amelia’s lady-in-waiting – Rosemary Nencheck
A captain – Roy Cornelius Smith

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

The Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Fabio Luisi

Giancarlo del Monaco – Original production
David Kneuss – Revival Director
Michael Scott – Set and Costume design
Wayne Chouinard – Lighting design

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Barnette

Reviewed: 9 March, 2007
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, New York City

Simon Boccanegra, Verdi’s 21st opera, was a resounding failure at its premiere in Venice in 1857. It was not until Verdi had revised it extensively 24 years later, with the help of Arrigo Boito, that the work enjoyed success at a performance in Milan. Therefore, although technically a middle-period opera, following closely after “Rigoletto”, “La traviata”, and “Il trovatore”, in its refinement of orchestration and harmonic language it is often closer to Verdi’s late works, such as “Otello”.

It was apparent from the start that conductor Fabio Luisi had a thorough grasp of all of the work’s stylistic elements. Throughout the evening he elicited remarkably delicate, colorful playing from the MET’s world-class orchestra, as in the ‘Introduction’ to Act One, and unleashed its full power for the dramatic scenes in Acts Two and Three.

With such sympathetic support from the pit, the singers were free to explore the full range of vocal and dramatic possibilities. Veteran bass Ferruccio Furlanetto impressed from his initial appearance in the prologue with his powerful and resonant voice, as well as his dignified stage presence. Young Chilean soprano Angela Marambio, who only last November made her MET debut as Mimi, proved to be a full-voiced lyric soprano. She seems to have the potential of maturing into the dramatic Fach, exhibiting both the lyricism and power required of this role. As her lover, Gabriele Adorno, American tenor Marcus Haddock was a perfect vocal match with an equally powerful and expressive voice and ringing top notes. Their duets provided some of the highlights of the evening, and one looks forward to following their promising careers.

Thomas Hampson was to have sung the role of Simon Boccanegra, but on this final evening of the run he was indisposed and was replaced by Mark Delavan. Although dramatically he gave a gripping portrayal of the Genovese Doge, vocally he was the weakest of the major characters, producing a rather dry sound, especially in his high register. The minor parts were sung competently by Vassily Gerello, Richard Bernstein, Rosemary Nencheck, and Roy Cornelius Smith, and the Metropolitan Opera chorus did its part in bringing the drama of the work to life.

A house known for its conservative staging, the MET pulled out all the stops for the sets and costumes in this 12-year-old Giancarlo del Monaco production. The town square in the Prologue, the courtyard of the Grimaldi Palace at dawn, where the light on the horizon gradually shifted from red to pale blue, the Doge’s private quarters, and especially the council chamber at his palace were all replicated in meticulous, realistic detail. Velvet galore, men in skirts, knights in armor – this was traditional opera at its grandest.

  • This was the final performance of the current revival, the first night of which was February 19
  • Metropolitan Opera

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