Monday, February 08, 2010

Verdi's Simon Boccanegra--The Met: Live in HD--February 6, 2010

Marcello Giordani as Gabriele Adorno and Adrianne Pieczonka as Amelia/Maria
Simon--as a young pirate searching for his beloved Maria, daughter of Fiesco

Simon--as the Doge of Genoa 25 years later

Conductor: James Levine

Simon Boccanegra.......Plácido Domingo
Amelia/Maria............Adrianne Pieczonka
Gabriele Adorno.........Marcello Giordani
Fiesco....................James Morris
Paolo.....................Nicola Alaimo

According to a review that I read, Plácido Domingo's debut as Simon Boccanegra in Berlin (Oct. 24, 2009) was a huge success. "More than 25 minutes of standing ovation, rhythmic clapping, stomping and Bravo-screaming proved that the audience thoroughly enjoyed the invincible tenor in a baritone role! Even though he is not a "real" baritone, he won the hearts of the audience with his unique, colorful voice and with his convincing acting. He is really a living legend in music history!"

Following this very successful appearance in Berlin with Daniel Barenboim conducting, Plácido made his debut in January as Simon at the NY Metropolitan Opera with James Levine conducting. The two maestri began their respective careers at the Met about 40 years ago.

Giancarlo del Monaco’s grand production was introduced in 1995, when Mr. Domingo sang the tenor role of Gabriele, the hotheaded aristocrat who loves Amelia/Maria. At that time Mr. Domingo could not have imagined that one day he would be singing the title baritone role of Simon at age 69. “I cannot betray the singer,” he has said. “I won’t sing one day more than I should, but also I won’t sing one day less than I can." With his vocal charisma, dramatic dignity and a lifetime of experience, his portrayal of Simon Boccanegra was very convincing in this tale of love, loss, politics, intrigue, hidden identity and vendetta.

As Amelia/Maria, the Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka was musically splendid; however, her acting and especially the grimacing were a little off-putting. The tenor Marcello Giordani in the role of Gabriele sang with ardor. As Fiesco, the once powerful Doge, whose daughter Maria had already died before the story began to unfold, the bass-baritone James Mason was solemn, dignified and moving. He evoked great empathy as he bemoaned the loss of his granddaughter (Maria now known as Amelia). Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi sang the role of Paolo, the villain.

"Over the last decade, when a role took him to the upper register of his tenor voice, he often sounded cautious and calculating. But as Boccanegra, he could not wait, it seemed, for the line to soar into the baritone’s high register, now his comfort zone,” stated NY Times music critic Anthony Tomassini. Having read less than laudatory reviews by Tomassini and others, I was very pleasantly surprised by this performance. I loved it, an absolutely stunning production. Plácido Domingo's portrayal and acting were superb! This was an exquisite performance in every way -- musically, visually and theatrically. I also enjoyed Renée Fleming's commentary and interviews during the intermissions.

However, I did notice something disconcerting: Plácido as the father of Amelia/Maria looked considerably older than James Morris, who sang the role of her grandfather.

AND I think the camera caught James Levine nodding off at the podium just as the curtain went up after the first intermission!!

Plácido will be performing the same role later this spring at Royal Opera Covent Garden. In so doing he will make Royal Opera House history by becoming the first performer to sing there in one season both as a tenor and a baritone. Tony Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera, welcomed Domingo's forthcoming return. He said: "Working with Plácido Domingo has been one of the great joys of my life. His level of talent and professionalism is a beacon in the opera world – long may it continue."

Domingo also is to sing the role of Simon Boccanegra at the Zurich Opera (March 23), Milan's Teatro all Scala (starting April 16), London's Royal Opera (opening June 29) and Madrid's Teatro Real (starting July 22).

For NY Times Anthony Tomassini's review, Click here:

Plácido sings the tenor role of Gabriele Adorno in Oh Inferno! Amelia qui! in a 1995 Met production (English subtitles). Click here:

Plácido and others sing in Simon Boccanegra from the Staatsoper, Berlin, production, Daniel Barenboim conducting, Plácido in the baritone role of Simon, October 2009 Click here:

The Three Tenors in Concert-Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Luciano Pavorotti-sing the famous aria Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot.  On July 7, 1990, they gave their first concert in Terme di Caracalla, Rome-Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma; Conductor: Zubin Mehta. This event was recorded and went on to become one of the best-selling cassical titles of all time.

The video below is from their 1994 concert performed at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, for an audience of 56,000 people:

Plácido, tenor, sings the tenor role of Cavaradossi in the famous aria E lucevan le stelle from Puccini's Tosca-1992 production--Conductor: Zubin Mehta-Click here:


  1. I recently read the review, dated February 8, 2010, of the Metropolitan Opera's HD presentation of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. You had mentioned that Nicola Alaimo and Patrick Carfizzi had sung the role of Paolo. Actually, Mr. Carfizzi sang Paolo in the initial 3 performances of the season, but for the HD performance the role was sung by Stephen Gaertner.

  2. Thank you for reading my blog. I got my information from the program which we received the day of the performance.