Peter Hall directs this July 1998 Glyndebourne production of Verdi's opera, set in 14th century Genoa. Mark Elder conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the performers include Peter Sidhom and Giancarlo Pasquetto.
This opera with its complex political plot and tortured relationships benefits more than most from the Glyndebourne treatment, good singers, good direction and strong emphasis on the drama as it unfolds. All the singers are physically believable in their roles, and above all act and sing their roles superbly, this is an ensemble cast of equals, and these are all standout performances. This is a dark and threatening opera, acted out in the claustrophobic Italian courts of the 14th century, and the simple stage design of dark moving walls, and ever present glimpses of the sea in the background remind us constantly of the menace and Genoese location. Good photography, direction and excellent natural Dolby Digital sound round off a wonderful evening at the opera.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Epic Mediocrity25 Aug. 2004
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Anyone familiar with the works of Verdi knows that Simon Boccanegra was one of the final steps to what experts call the composer's "mature period." It is an opera with one of the most complicated (not to mention daring) plots he employed, and requires a full fledged cast of virtuoso singers in the lead roles (baritone, three bassi, soprano, tenor), and numerous other small roles. Thus, it requires an imaginative and talented opera company, orchestra, and list of talented musicians.
This Glyndebourne Festival production of Simon Boccanegra tries to impress with their usual grandiose sets and idealistic interpretations, but to me, it didn't amount to much and, more importantly, didn't compensate for the lack of presence from the leads. Giancarlo Pasquetto as Boccanegra should demand attention and exude power---he did nothing more than occasionally pace and shout; all that aside from the fact that his (too) quick vibrato and muffled intonation (from an Italian at that!) muffled his character. The Fiesco of Alastair Miles was a only a bit better, with in my opinion, the only good performances coming from David Rendall (the small tenor role as Gabriele Adorno), Peter Sidhom (Paolo, the scheming thug), and Elena Prokina (as Amelia) who almost always shines in her roles (look for her as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin this year at SF Opera). The saving grace for these singers is Mark Elder, who conducts the London Philharmonic and generally keeps everything together.
Apart from the actual musical aspect, the production just plain bored me. The prologue is extremely slow (even amidst the excitement of Boccanegra being appointed Doge), and the acting was horrendous. Pasquetto(Boccanegra) and his rival Miles (Fiesco) have some of the most important music in the opera, yet during these strife-filled moments, they seem to be deathly afraid of showing any kind of theatric expression (seriously, just look at Pasquetto's face on the front cover of the DVD's stock photo). The movements of the whole cast were machine-like and forced, and there was no chemistry whatsoever. You know how well you did by the reaction of the crowd---result: polite clapping. A good operatic production requires great music, wonderful stage presence, and a better than average take on the story. You barely get the first with this DVD, and the second two aren't even close.
As for the DVD itself---Kultur doesn't give much, with very few extra features, and nothing more than average audio transfer. Pass on this one---a much better choice would be either of the Met productions (esp. with Levine; Domingo/Chernov/Te Kanawa), or even the "blue" production from La Scala (with Abbado; Guelfi, Mattila, and Konstantinov).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Quintessential Verdi Virtues10 Feb. 2014
Mrs.Joan Karvelas, (Ioanna Sfekas Karvelas, Dramatic Soprano)
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One of the most excellent renditions of Verdi's great work. Elder has everyone under his spell. Precise, sensitive, and most of all, human,