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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra / Abbado, Mattila, Guelfi, Konstantinov, Et Al

Verdi / Guelfi / Konstantinov / Scola / Abbado
Release Date: 03/16/2004 
Label:  Tdk   Catalog #: OPSIBO  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Andrea ConcettiVincenzo La ScolaCarlo GuelfiKarita Mattila,   ... 
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florence Maggio Musicale OrchestraFlorence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Simon Boccanegra is Verdi's saddest opera. The predominant colors are dark--there are more passages featuring only the low strings than anywhere else in his canon--and the only ray of sunshine in the work comes from the role of Amelia. It never has been one of the composer's most popular operas, but 30 years ago, during his tenure at La Scala, conductor Claudio Abbado overwhelmed the public with the work's beauty and depth, abetted by a spectacular cast (Cappuccilli, Freni, Carreras) and production team (available, incidentally, on DG). In 2002, he again led the opera in a stunning production in Florence, which, luckily (and wisely) has been captured on video. It is a must for all Verdians.
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Stefan Mayer's sets are almost non-existent; as such, the little furniture there is takes on special meaning. Boccanegra's throne in the Council Chamber Scene never has looked so powerful; the chalice with the poison that kills him is our focal point not only because it spells doom for Boccanegra but because it's beautiful and it's there. The lighting is stunning, with a persistent blue to remind us of the sea--and the costumes, in reds, whites, and blues only (except for a clashing orange for the villain, Paolo) dazzle the eye with their brilliance. Director Peter Stein knows that both the political and personal lives of the characters matter; their interactions are never hand-to-heart stilted and movements are natural and perfectly timed.

The singers hardly could be bettered. Carlo Guelfi is close to being the ideal Simon; he superbly manages the character's public strength and nobility as well as his private, fatherly warmth, and he turns in some of the most affecting pianissimo singing imaginable. Only a touch of magnetism is missing. Karita Mattila's Amelia is a stronger than usual portrayal, with feelings of love as passionate as those of proper outrage. Her entrance into the Council Chamber Scene is more forceful than from any soprano I've ever heard or seen (they tend to be sweet little things) and her singing throughout is fearless, lovely, and expressive. Almost equally fine is the Adorno of Vincenzo La Scola, who sings the almost thankless role as if his life depends on it, bringing sensitivity to it whenever possible. The towering, brooding Fiesco of Julian Konstantinov is a potent presence and Lucio Gallo's evil Paolo is both treacherous and cowardly. The rest of the cast--along with the chorus and orchestra--is superb, and Abbado's identification with the score is complete. The final moments, played softly and slowly, are devastating in their beauty and warmth. The sound and picture are vivid and clear. This, as I said above, should be in the video collection of all who love Verdi. [7/1/2004]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Andrea Concetti (), Vincenzo La Scola (Tenor), Carlo Guelfi (Baritone),
Karita Mattila (Soprano), Julian Konstantinov (Bass), Lucio Gallo (Bass)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857; Italy 
Date of Recording: 06/2002 
Venue:  Teatro Communale, Florence 

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