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on 12 December 2010
It is difficult to write a review for a DVD that captured a historic moment. First, I must add, I did in fact fly from Johannesburg, South Africa, to London in July 2010 specifically to go watch Placido Domingo sing Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera. It was very difficult to get tickets for the 5 performances. Demand was so high ("unprecedented" was the word the ROH used) that the ROH eventually opened the final dress rehearsal to the public to allow more people to see the opera. Patrons were limited to two tickets each. On the night I went, there was a sensation of being at a special festive event among the patrons. Everyone talked about how excited they were about being there and how they fretted about getting tickets or not. It was worth every penny that I spent to see my favourite tenor/baritone live.

Needless to say, I preordered the DVD as soon as it was possible to do so.

Simon Boccanegra has, for me at least, been the most difficult of Verdi's operas. I have found the story a little difficult to comprehend. There are quite a few characters who never appear on stage (like Maria Fiesco, mother of Amelia, lover of Simon) and Lorenzini, who is sent to kidnap Amelia, whose contributions are crucial to the plot. Also, I could never understand why Simon and Amelia don't tell anyone they are father and daughter. It would have prevented many misunderstandings and even saved lives. The opera is also filled with hatred and the poisonous effect it has on people and relationships to keep a grudge for 25 years.

Obviously, the star of the DVD and the performance is Placido Domingo. There is a slight hint of his tenor voice in the opening notes, but considering that in the prologue Simon is still a young man, it is perhaps apt. For the rest of the opera, Domingo shines as a baritone and brings the troubled Simon's torments to life. The meeting with his daughter is beautiful and Domingo shows the transformation in the character from being a sad man to one that all of a sudden has something to live for again. The Council Chamber scene is just amazing and overpowering when all of the voices are on stage. Domingo towers over all of them. The same applies to the second and third acts. In the second act, Simon sings that he wants his heritage to be a united Italy. I suspect that was Verdi's own wish that he worked into the opera, since Italy was no more unified in 1859 than it was when Simon Boccanegra lived in the 14th century.

The character of Jacopo Fiesco is the crucial antithesis to Simon. This bitter man hates Simon all these years, until he discovers, just in time to be too late, that Amelia is his granddaughter and forgives Simon as he lies dying. Feruccio Furlanetto is a brooding Fiesco. His dark voice suits the role well, just like it does Philip II in Don Carlo (another ROH DVD release). Verdi: Don Carlo - DVD Live from the Royal Opera House [2010] [NTSC]

Marina Poplavskaya is the ideal young Verdi heroine, just like she is in Don Carlo and Otello. Verdi treats his women, especially in his later operas, much more as real woman in real love than Wagner's goddess like heroines. She looks stunning, romantic but strong willed. She bravely defends Simon even against her lover, Gabriele Adorno. Her opening opera against the backdrop of the ocean is just beautiful.

Joseph Calleja is a Domingo protegé, and has a beautiful voice, although there is a slight vibrato in it that I don't particularly like too much. However, as Gabriele Adorno he is a convincing headstrong and slightly impulsive young man who wants to act before he thinks, saved from himself only by Amelia.

Jonathan Summers, as the treacherous Paulo, is perfect for the role. He looks like your classic two timing scheming crook and coward, genuinely overcome with fear when he has to curse himself.

Antonio Pappano conducts the score with Verdian fire and enthusiasm. The ROH Orchestra is, I suspect, one of the top orchestra's in the world, but because they're an opera orchestra, they're never mentioned in the same breath as the Berlin Philharmonic or the Vienna Philharmonic. They should be.

Elijah Moshinsky's production is beautiful and colourful, with the focus on the sea pervading the opera.

For those who managed to attend this wonderful event, this will be a wonderful souvenir of a historic performance.
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on 29 January 2011
I was at the Royal Opera House on the first night of this Boccanegra (29/6/10). It was an amazing experiance which will be memorable for all who were there, that evening. This DVD captures that magical event (although not recorded on the opening night). The awe and drama of the Opera; the least known, but undoubtedly among the best of Verdi's works, is excellently captured with clarity and fidelity on this DVD.

Domingo, as a BARITOBE, is as thrilling as ever, Calleja enters majestically into the ranks of the great tenors, whilst Pappanno's conducting wrings out from the orchestra all the drama and tension which Verdi wrote into the score. Lovers of Opera will enjoy and treasure this DVD for many years to come.
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on 11 April 2011
Many people thought Placido Domingo would retire from his position as one of the world's leading tenors, perhaps sticking with a bit of conducting. But no, he has moved down to a deeper, richer voice as a baritone, and this is perhaps one of his greatest performances.
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on 10 July 2011
This DVD captures a flawless but by no means uninspired production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. Everything is perfect;- the sets, the lighting, the costumes, the acting, the singing and the sense of drama is fantastic. Everything about this reaches a higher tone - I only wish I could have been there at the actual performance.
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on 25 February 2011
The man can still do it. Placido Domingo is arguably the greatest opera singer of them all, with his extraordinary voice, his staggering range of roles, his dramatic skills and his sheer hard work. Few singers could produce a landmark performance as they near their 70th birthday, but Domingo did that with Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

The title role is traditionally a baritone part, but, as Elijah Moshinsky points out on the introduction to this recording, Domingo sings it not as a tenor or a baritone, but as Domingo - and very effective it is, too. This is an immensely moving performance, and Domingo has strong support from an excellent cast including Marina Poplavskaya, somewhat reminiscent of a young Joan Sutherland.

The spectacular sets and costumes serve Verdi's opera well. Altogether this is a DVD to treasure. A magnificent performance, enhanced by conductor Antonio Pappano's introductions to each act.
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on 27 November 2011
This is a beautiful recording of a wonderful production. Although Domingo is singing baritone here (rather than his usual tenor), his stage presence and musicality ensure a competely convincing performance. Marina Poplavskaya is wonderful as Amelia, looking and sounding beautiful. Joseph Calleja sings beautifully as Adorno although slightly less convincing in the acting department. The production and costumes are spot on with the famous council chamber scene an absolute triumph. The scenes between Boccanegra and his daughter are especially moving. A must for any Verdi lover.
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on 20 April 2014
Placido Domingo is an extraordinary Simon, in singing as well as in acting. The soprano who is his daughter sings lijke an angel.
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on 30 January 2013
This introduced me to a Verdi opera that I had only been aware of via it's Overture.

What a treat it was to hear the first class singing of all characters. Such a melodic opera which I enjoyed immencely.
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on 23 October 2012
What is depressing is if you really want Simon Boccanegra on DVD you are overwhelmed with Domingo live performances. Gobbi, Cappuccilli, Silveri, (Milnes and Hampton on DVD) are all better by far. Domingo can ONLY be compared to other baritones in this role and he fails.

I do not deny his stature as one of the great 20th Century singers, but that should not give him license to do anything without fair criticism. Domingo is not a baritone, and while his stage presence might fill the shoes of Boccanegra, his thin, hollow "baritone" voice does not.
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on 28 February 2011
cannot wait to see this,but have decided not to encourage this sort of practice,so until a bluray version,in dragons den parlance...I'M OUT.
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