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Giuseppe Verdi: Simon Boccanegra
Sherrill Milnes (Simon Boccanegra), Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Maria Boccanegra), Paul Plishka (Jacopo Fiesco), Vasile Moldoveanu (Gabriele Adorno), Richard J. Clark (Paolo Albiani), James Courtney (Pietro), Robert Nagy (A Captain), Dawn Upshaw (Amelia’s Maidservant)
Brian Large (Video Director), Michael Bronson (Video Producer), Tito Capobianco (Director and Producer), Gil Wechsler (Lighting Designer), Donald Mahler (Choreographer), Jay David Sachs (Video Audio Director)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, James Levine (Conductor), Metropolitan Opera Chorus, David Stivender (Chorus Master)

Stage Production owned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and made possible by the Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown, Iowa.

Public Recording, New York City, The Metropolitan Opera (December 1984). Directed for Video by Brian Large. Running Time: 150 min.
Booklet in English, German, and French. Subtitles available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Chinese.

Deutsche Grammophon ref. #: 04400734403

Thanks to efforts of Deutsche Grammophon we now have a wonderful DVD release of this middle-period Verdi opera encapsulating full spectacle in every sense of the word. Simon Boccanegra, one of the most confounding and convoluted operas in the standard repertoire, is a work Verdi brought to stage based on the actual life of the first Doge of Genoa during the 1300s.

From beginning to end well-known baritone Sherrill Milnes sings the title role with established credibility and grip through use of his flowing legato, resonating tone and physical presence. Adding to the electrifying aura is his pairing with long-lost daughter, Amelia, sung by Bulgarian Anna Tomowa-Sintow. This talented soprano captivates and captures heart-wrenching emotion during pivotal points within the score.

Having made several appearances at The Met we find Vasile Moldoveanu taking on the role as Amelia’s suitor, Gabriele Adorno whose clarion sparkle fits nicely into the tenor line, especially during the aria, “Sento avampar nell’anima” in Act II. Rounding out the solid foundation of principals is the bass voice of Paul Plishka that contains husky sonority with a bit of edginess as the patrician Jacopo Fiesco.

The gifted Tito Capobianco reworked the original Pier Luigi Pizzi production from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and made extravagant use of period costumes that dovetailed with artful 14th Century Venetian architecture complimented by Gil Wechsler’s innate lighting techniques to maximize dramatic intensity.

James Levine conducts with finesse and understated control, exemplified by his mesmerizing presence amongst the chorus and lead performers. His well-oiled orchestral machine works like a charm.

This Live from The Met recording of Simon Boccanegra has everything: elaborate set detail, rich costuming, and sophisticated lighting. Added to this is a cadre of cast members who connect approvingly with the audience through the opera’s generous balance of arias, duets, quartets and choral scenes. This recording is a “must have” for Verdi lovers.

Highly recommended.

Christie Grimstad




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