Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave,
Based on the drama by Antonio Garcia Gutierrex,
revised by Arrigo Boito
Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis
Stage Director: Elijah Moshinsky
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Powerhouse singing with Verdi’s lush score produces a wondrous evening of opera
My first encounter with Verdi’s 1857, then revised for 1881, opera, Simon Boccanegra produced a most splendid evening of opera. The lavish costumes (by Peter J. Hall) on the impressive set (by Michael Yeargan) with expert casting gave Simon Boccanegra the look and feel of an epic opera. The lush melodies were sweepingly romantic as they exude richly deep emotions. The unity of music with libretto in Simon Boccanegra worked strikingly well with the baritones and bass. The two romantic duets are to be cherished. The preponderant of low male voices seemed a tad dark until the music and the glorious soprano from Krassimira Stoyanova balanced the sound in her Lyric debut. Sir Andrew Davis has the lyric orchestra sound lavish in respects for Verdi score.
The story revolves around Paola (baritone Quinn Kelsey) whose lust for power propels him to convince Simon Boccanegra (the powerfully voiced baritone Thomas Hampson) to try to become elected Doge of Genoa (chief magistrate). Simon agrees in order marry Maria Fiesco his love. Jacopo Fiesco (the outstanding bass Ferruccio Furlanetto) condemns Simon for seducing Maria as he laments her death. Boccanegra pleads for forgiveness but Fiesco demands the daughter Maria bore as reconciliation but the child has disappeared.
Amelia (the melodic Krassimira Stoyanova) the grown daughter of Maria and Boccanegra now living with the Grimaldi family. Boccanegra meets Amelia at her home and he asks her if she has ever loved. She tells of her childhood and shows Boccanegra her locket that, amazingly, matches the one Simon carries. The emotional reunion is sung richly in the Duet: Figlia! Boccangra tells Paolo that he will not marry Amelia. Paolo vows revenge.
Vengeance, murder, deception, infertility fuel the tragic plot. Boccanegra, the wise and benevolent ruler of Genoa, shields Amelia until she is accused by her lover Gabriele Adorno ( the silky tenor Frank Lopardo) of infidelity. Boccanegra reveals to Adorno that Amelia is his daughter just before Adorno is to stab him. Since Paolo has poisoned Boccanegra, his dying allows him to reconcile with Andrea, who reveals himself as Fiesco. Forgiveness and reconciliation between Fiesco and Boccanegfra and between Adorno and Boccanegra give solace to the dying Doge. Boccanegra instructs the senators to accept Adorno as the new Doge.
Besides the fine work by Thomas Hampson as Boccanegra, I was particularly impressed by the powerful bass work by Rerruccio Furlanetto and the compact work by soprano Krassimira Stoyanova as Amelia. Frank Lopardo;s tenor added nicely to the mix of terrific voices. Quinn Kelsey was the apt villain. Come discover the magistracy of Giuseppe Verdi and the richly romantic 19th Century Italian opera. Simon Boccanegra is a fabulous window into the greatness of Verdi.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: October 20, 2012
For more info checkout the Simon Boccanegra page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago