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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (Simon Boccanegra: Vienna State Opera 2002) [DVD] [2010]


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Product details

  • Format: Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: ARTHAUS
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Jun 2010
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003IP2YFI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,034 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

One of the lesser known works by Giuseppe Verdi, Simon Boccanegra is regarded by most opera lovers as one of his finest. The action takes place in the 14th century and deals with the political and personal rivalry between the corsair Simon Boccanegra, who has been elected Doge of Genoa with the help of the plebeian vote, and the local nobleman, Jacopo Fiesco. Arthaus presents a visually alert, musically sensitive and disturbingly coherent (Der Standard) production of the piece on DVD. The staging was directed by one of the giants of the European theatre, Peter Stein. His fondness for atmospherically dense spaces in which the characters can fully develop is particularly well brought out in his Vienna production, not least because he had at his disposal two remarkable singing actors for the principal male roles, Thomas Hampson and Ferruccio Furlanetto. The Vienna State Opera's Simon Boccanegra was a great event in the house's history, and the beauties of this unique work to blossomed under Daniele Gatti's care.

Review

The Scalas critical audience celebrated Plácido Domingos return to the stage with a 15-minute ovation. --EL Mundo

Domingo is an artist whose enthusiasm and experience ensure a solid interpretation. Performance *** Picture & Sound *** --BBC Music Magazine,Apr'12

It remains remarkable how well Domingo sings the title role, given His age (69)…an appreciable achievement. --Opera,Apr'12

Characters' interrelationships come across clearly, and more than that in such confrontational scenes as those between Boccanegra and Fiesco in the Prologue in the final act, in both of which the veterans Domingo and Ferruccio Furlanetto belie their age and create almost tangible tension, both being in grand voice. --International Record Review

Some of the best singing comes from Anja Harteros as Amelia. --Richard Fawkes, Opera Now --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Feb 2012
Format: Blu-ray
Coming just before the mature final works, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra - along with Un Ballo in Maschera, Les Vêpres Siciliennes, La Forza del Destino and Don Carlos - occupy a strange but fascinating hinterland in the career of the composer. Each of the operas, influenced by Verdi's political involvement in the Risorgimento for the reunification of Italy during the period, are very much concerned with the exercise of power, but they all rely on typically operatic conventions of bel canto and French Grand Opéra in their use of personal tragedies and unlikely twists of fate to highlight the human feelings and weaknesses that lie behind their historical dramas. Written in 1859, but revised by the composer in 1881, Piave's libretto given an uncredited reworking by Arrigo Boito, Simon Boccanegra is consequently one of the more interesting works from this period, certainly from a musical standpoint. Aware of the flaws in the earlier version of the opera, Verdi can be seen to be striving in its revised form to take it away from the aria/cabaletta conventions towards the more fluid form of through composition and expression of character that would come to fruition in Otello.

It's perhaps with this in mind that the 2010 production of Simon Boccanegra from La Scala in Milan adopts a kind of hybrid form of traditional staging with some modernist touches that, like the opera's own make-up, don't blend together entirely successfully, but are no less fascinating for how they throw their contradictory elements into relief.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Ball on 2 Mar 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an opera I am getting to like more every time I hear it. There are none of the big tunes typical of Verdi but the music grows on you.
Placido Domingo in the title role was in a astonishingly good voice as were Ferruccio Furlanetto (as Fiesco) and Anja Harteros (as Amelia/Maria). Fabio Sartori (as Gabriele Adorno) and Massimo Cavalletto (as Paolo) were good but not in the same class as the other three. Audio and video quality were excellent.
The production was traditional but with a few strange effects thrown in. The prologue was set on a darkened stage with a docked ship in the background. Unfortunately the ship itself was set in a bright white background and was the scene of furious activity, all of which distracted from the main action in the foreground. At this point the video editor was quite helpful and cut a lot of this out. In the scene between Simon Boccanegra and Amelia, four large uprooted shrubs descended from the top of the stage and were eventually re-united with the soil. You could see the analogy - the uprooted orphan Amelia is being re-united with here Father in this scene. However this was a very strange, distracting effect - basically the Producer was being clever at the expense of the overall performance.
In the final scene, which is very poignant when well done, the Producer and Video Editor combined in a way that completely spoilt the performance of the two principals. The Producer had a large mirror descend above the scene while the Video Editor switched too rapidly from camera to camera, playing about with clever ways of fading one shot into another. This all distracted badly from what I actually wanted to see, namely the two singers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Strong traditional production with a few modern touches 22 Feb 2012
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Coming just before the mature final works, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra - along with Un Ballo in Maschera, Les Vêpres Siciliennes, La Forza del Destino and Don Carlos - occupy a strange but fascinating hinterland in the career of the composer. Each of the operas, influenced by Verdi's political involvement in the Risorgimento for the reunification of Italy during the period, are very much concerned with the exercise of power, but they all rely on typically operatic conventions of bel canto and French Grand Opéra in their use of personal tragedies and unlikely twists of fate to highlight the human feelings and weaknesses that lie behind their historical dramas. Written in 1859, but revised by the composer in 1881, Piave's libretto given an uncredited reworking by Arrigo Boito, Simon Boccanegra is consequently one of the more interesting works from this period, certainly from a musical standpoint. Aware of the flaws in the earlier version of the opera, Verdi can be seen to be striving in its revised form to take it away from the aria/cabaletta conventions towards the more fluid form of through composition and expression of character that would come to fruition in Otello.

It's perhaps with this in mind that the 2010 production of Simon Boccanegra from La Scala in Milan adopts a kind of hybrid form of traditional staging with some modernist touches that, like the opera's own make-up, don't blend together entirely successfully, but are no less fascinating for how they throw their contradictory elements into relief. There's nothing too jarring or experimental in Federico Tiezzi staging - this is La Scala after all - which gives a sense of historical 14th century period, with beautifully designed costumes and eye-catching colour schemes that make the divisions between the rival factions clear. There are one or two more modern touches of stage technique however - descending trees onto the stage in Act II, a sea of blocks that suggests seismic activity and a huge reproduction of Casper David Friedrich's Das Eismeer - that suggest that this shouldn't be taken simple as a straightforward historical drama, but as one that has greater conceptual meaning with regards to the questions of the nature of power and the place of human relationships within it.

This is a fine, marvellously looking production then, meticulously directed and expertly conducted by Daniel Barenboim to bring out the full conceptual nature of the staging and the abstraction of the opera's music, but it's the human interpretation that is perhaps the most vital aspect of Simon Boccanegra. Domingo, of course, isn't the true baritone that is required for the role, but he had all the necessary qualities and experience - as he approached his 70th birthday - to take on the challenge of two significant Verdi baritone roles in 2010 (and it's probably no coincidence that the other was that complementary character of Rigoletto). His tone of voice, so dramatically attuned, brings a great deal of that necessary flawed humanity to the role of Boccanegra. Ferruccio Furlanetto is of course one of the great Verdi basses of our time and it's particularly wonderful to watch two such fine performers and voices complement each other so well in this rival roles. Their Act III 'Piango, perché me parla' is absolutely stunning. Harteros sings Maria/Amelia well - as you would expect - but I didn't get the same sense of father/daughter chemistry that existed when Domingo was paired with Marina Poplavskaya for the Covent Garden production of this opera the same year.

It's not just experience that is required either on the part of the singers, but rather the ability of Domingo, Furlanetto and Harteros to inhabit their characters and give them a deeply human sense of expression through their delivery that ultimately lifts this production above being merely a faithful and appropriate treatment to one that explores the intriguing potential of the opera, with all its fascinating flaws and contradictions. The Blu-ray release from Arthaus presents the production exceptionally well, with a clear, sharp full-HD image, and two sound mixes in LPCM stereo and DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 that are superbly detailed and toned. There are no extra features on the disc, and only a brief essay on the opera and the production in the enclosed booklet. A synopsis to explain the historical context of the opera's setting would have been useful, but I imagine you can find that on line somewhere if necessary. The Blu-ray is region-free, BD25, 1080i, subtitles are in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish and Korean.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Domingo is great in this 14 Feb 2012
By Phillip - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I just watched the Blu-ray of this and was almost moved to tears by the great singing of Placido Domingo. Hard to believe he was 69 when this was recorded.................what a strong yet nuanced performance! Ferruccio Furlanetto was magnificent also.............he is one of the best basses I have ever heard.

La Scala did a nice job staging this opera, and I really liked the orchestra under Daniel Barenboim.

The opera has a Shakespearean tragedy feel to it, and high point to me is the duet in the last act between Domingo and Furlanetto that sort of echoes the Commandetore and Don Giovanni. This is the best Verdi opera I have ever seen. There are no extras, but there is interesting information in the booklet that comes with the disc.

Five stars and highest recommendation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not full-blown Eurotrash, but ... 11 Oct 2013
By Brent Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
has enough weird stuff (trees descending root-first from the ceiling into the stage; oddball rectangular plates littering the stage, etc.) mixed into what is ostensibly a traditional production, that I regret having blown money on it.

I had thought this sort of thing doesn't happen at La Scala. But, alas, they are not immune.

If one is dying to hear Domingo sing baritone (and he does so very well) ... there are at least two other productions on DVD.

Musically and sonically the DVD is faultless, beautiful in fact. But we come back to the same issue: if it's a DVD, it's meant to be seen. And if one likes traditional productions, this won't cut it.
Amazing performance by Domingo 2 Jan 2013
By Warren Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This DVD promises to be incredible given that it is Verdi, with Placido Domingo in the lead role, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and performed at Teatro Alla Scala. And this performance delivers. The sets are wonderfully bare and powerful at the same time, the orchestra sounds fantastic (this group *always* does) under Mr. Barenboim's baton, Mr. Domingo shows that his voice is still incredible along with his acting skills, and the Chorus of the Teatro Alla Scala does wonderful work bringing the incredible choral components of Verdi's opera to life. Ah yes, this is fine opera, and I continually found myself envious of those that got to see it performed live in that magnificent venue.

The one negative that took me by surprise had to do with the camera angles and continual cutting in from close-up to pulled-back view in the later portions of the 2nd act. This choppiness was totally unnecessary and detracted from the production on video as a whole.

That being said, this is a remarkable performance and is certainly a worthwhile addition to this opera lovers collection.
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