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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra - Abbado [DVD]

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Carlo Guelfi, Julian Konstantinov, Andrea Concetti, Vincenzo La Scola, Lucio Gallo
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: TDK
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Dec. 2003
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000YHJAU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,386 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Cast:

  • Simon Boccanegra -- Carlo Guelfi
  • Jacopo Fiesco (Andrea) -- Julian Konstantinov
  • Maria Boccanegra (Amelia) -- Karita Mattila
  • Gabriele Adorno -- Vincenzo La Scola
  • Paolo Albiani -- Lucio Gallo
  • Pietro -- Anrea Concetti

Chorus and Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino conducted by Claudio Abbado
Directed by Peter Stein

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A reference for our times - excellent relatively to today's average productions, but unable to compete with yesterday's marvels (namely the fabled 1970s La Scala Abbado-Strehler production)? That's what one may think at first, but as time passes, one comes to appreciate this new 'Simon Boccanegra' for what it is - a true gem, far from perfect, but full of infinitely precious sparkles.
Of course, Peter Stein's direction can't compare to the pure poetry of Giorgio Strehler's - and its famous boat, surrounded by a golden light, that will remain in the memory of everybody lucky enough to have seen that production. But lack of pure genius is compensated for by elegance and clarity - making such a complex action completely "readable" is no small feat, and that's what Stein does perfectly here. He is helped in that by a cast of true acting singers who invest themselves in their characters, led and transcended as they are by the living torch of Mattila's presence.
Beckmessers, however, will certainly point out that, except for her, none of these singers can compete with their predecessors. Certainly, Konstantinov does not have Ghiaurov's terrifying and considerable presence, but all Fiesco's notes are in his voice, and he only lacks a little maturity to be really memorable. La Scola has incredibly improved since his first Rigolettos with Muti some 15 years ago - the voice is solid, the presence real. His timbre can't match the milk and honey of young Carreras's, but it can easily rival Luchetti's, and La Scola shows the character's frailty much better than either of his rivals. Guelfi's voice seems at first too light for the role, but it gains weight as time passes, and the singer delivers a truly compelling 'Plebe, patrizi, popolo', and excels in all the most lyrical, subtle parts of the role.
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I might be letting extraneous considerations influence me here, but I think this was a production of a great opera that I can't imagine being better done. Sure, I can imagine more glamorous vocal casting in the main male roles, but Guelfi (Boccanegra), La Scola (Adorno), and Konstantinov (Fiesco) are good singers with good (but not great) voices, and, most important, they know what these roles are about (thanks surely to the conductor, Abbado, and the director Peter Stein) and they can execute the concept. Verdi usually poses personal fulfillment in tragic opposition to political reality (as in "Aida," "Don Carlos," and "Ballo," for example), but here he seeks to unite the political and the personal in an enlarged and more gracious concept of politics -- "Amor" and "Pace" (love and peace) are the same thing in the languages of personal values and political values respectively. Boccanegra dies a martyr to his belief in that more generous concept, but its main embodiment lives on in Amelia, the product of Simon's love for a woman from an "enemy" family. The values that Simon speaks for in the Council Scene ("Ed io gridando 'Pace' . . ." etc) are the values that we have seen Amelia "teaching" Adorno earlier in Act 1.

This 2002 performance must have been from the first Maggio Musicale Fiorentino production after the 9/11 bombings, and perhaps even the first for Abbado, following his diagnosis of cancer a year or so earlier. He looks hauntingly frail here, and it's good to know that he had a dozen more years of productive life ahead of him -- but one can't help wondering if the decision to put on "Boccanegra" was a consequence of these personal and political considerations.
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I have never been fascinated by Simon Boccanegra. Actually, up to now, there was no available recording giving it justice... untilk this production.
Directed by an inspired Claudio Abaddo, with a nice scenery if not much developed, this opera benefits from a very nice cast. No "unbearable" voice. Every singer is good to excellent.
But this Boccanegra is just beautifully held above by Karita Mattila. I must say I am one of her most devoted fans. And here again, she does not disappoint me at all. On the contrary, as usual, she takes her part with fairness : it is not Mrs Mattila singing but her character Amelia. And what an emotional voice, what a presence. She is a real angel of the lyrical world !!! A real wonder !!!
If she ever comes to sing near your home, go ahead : it is worth anything to watch her sing. I am glad I had the opportunity to applaude her live on many occasions in Paris : Lohengrin, Don Carlos, Jenufa, The Merry Widow, Pique Dame, Arabella,... Thanks to DVD technology, I feel now I have also applaude her in Simmon Boccanegra
RECOMMENDED TO ANY LOVER OF VOICES !!!
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