on 17 January 2012
Verdi's mesmerizing opera Simon Boccanegra, tells the tale of a once a dangerous pirate (Vladimir Chernov), who becomes a well respected man and is elected Doge of Genoa, for which he feels unworthy, but over the years becomes a strong leader. Before he is in power, he wishes to marry the daughter of the present Doge, Fiesco (Robert Lloyd). She has been imprisoned in her fathers palace, because she bore Boccanegra's child, Maria. Fiesco, upon hearing of his daughters death, takes his grandchild and leaves after telling Boccanegra the tragic death. Boccanegra is surrounded by the towns people, declaring him Doge. Many Years pass and Boccanegra is reunited with his long lost daughter. However, this happy event does not last long and eventually the opera ends in tragedy.
Russian baritone Vladimir Chernov, is incredible as the title role. His wonderful voice sounded amazing. Passionate and strong, his voice was just right for the role, which is immensely difficult and demanding for a singer, but he was flawless. Bruno Pola is excellent as the villain of the opera, his voice superb and his acting was terrific. Robert Lloyd was also excellent, his deep bass voice powerful with a very large range.
The extraordinary Placido Domingo brilliantly plays Amelia's/Maria's love interest. His overwhelmingly beautiful voice is astonishing as always. Although this is not one of his largest roles, he still gives a very memorable performance. The chemistry between Domingo and Te Kanawa is pefection, creating a great effect on those watching, and as a result makes the opera even more enjoyable to hear. His aria "Sento avvampar nell'anima" was incredible to watch and listen to, his spectacular voice matched with phenomenal acting skills.
However, Kiri Te Kanawa gave the greatest performance, her incredibly beautiful voice, enhanced Verdi's stunning music. Her rich, warm and vibrant tones and her ability to powerfully amplify her voice whilst maintaining a mellow, soft and delicate sound is outstanding. Her wonderful stage presence and remarkable voice is essential for the role of Amelia/Maria and this performance is immaculate. The beauty of Te Kanawa's voice, combined with her acting ability, makes her one of the greatest sopranos alive today. This production shows off all of her talents and her performance alone is a reason to buy this brilliant production.
Verdi's Music is generally overly dramatic and very loud. This opera, in comparison to the explosive composition of his wonderfully over the top opera's, (such as Il Travatore) is quite subtle for Verdi, although it does have dramatic scenes. Due to the more balanced composition, this is perhaps one of the most beautiful and greatest Verdi opera's I have ever seen. It has incredibly sublime arias such as "Come in quest'ora bruna"(sung exquisitely by Te Kanawa) and "Perdon, Amelia" (brilliant Domingo), which are just a couple of the outstanding arias from this masterpiece. When I listen to an opera, I generally have to be in a particular mood for Verdi's big and larger then life sounds. However with Simon Boccanegra, I don't have to be in any particular mood to want to listen to it. This is the perfect opera, with a good story line, beautiful music and incredible singing.
James Levine conducts a masterful orchestra and this grand, traditional MET production is bewitching, with beautiful singing and music. I definitely recommend purchasing this opera.