Notes and Editorial Reviews
Georg Solti, cond; Alexandru Agache (
); Kiri te Kanawa (
); Michael Sylvester (
); Roberto Scandiuzzi (
); Alan Opie (
); Mark Beesley (
); Elizabeth Sikora (
); Royal Opera House O & Ch
DECCA 071 4239 (135:00) Live: London 11/1991
This performance might well be familiar. It has certainly been telecast in the U.K. (possibly several times). It acts as a fine reminder of the famous excitement Maestro Solti could whip up from his orchestras—there is little trace of English restraint from the Covent Garden forces here. Solti manages the overall structure well, too, balancing the politics of the plot with the more intimate matters of Amelia’s love. He also ensures that retellings of the plot never stultify.
The stage producer is Elijah Moshinsky, who seems at pains to emphasize the darkness of the opera. This darkness is literal, at times—the Prologue is full of shadows cast by moonlight, while the dark clothing of the singers tends to blend them in with their surroundings. Alan Opie impresses here as Paolo. His voice is marvellously focused (Mark Beesley’s as Pietro is perhaps less so).
Te Kanawa sings Amelia on another DVD
, conducted by Levine (reviewed by Bob Rose in
26:4). Then, she was apparently stepping in for an indisposed Cheryl Studer. Here she is very much part of the original plan, and it is a joy to hear her in her prime. Her “Come in quest’ora bruna” has a line spun of the finest silk. Her diction throughout is exemplary, and her phrasing entirely natural—something which becomes obvious when she is pitted against Michael Sylvester’s strong but rather studied Gabriele. Roberto Scandiuzzi (Fiesco) has a voice as black as some of the sets and is simply superb, shining in the “Come un fantasima” section with Boccanegra.
As Boccanegra himself, Alexandru Agache displays a real stage presence and authority, coming into his own in the final stages of act I. His greatest moment in this performance is in the final moments of the last act. He shades phrases incredibly affectingly within a lovely
. As so often from Covent Garden, the chorus is stunning, whether onstage or offstage.
It is fascinating to watch Solti. Even in the light and restrained Prelude to act I, energy simply fizzes off him. He has clearly drilled the orchestra thoroughly, too, for some of the high-speed string-writing is stunningly accurate, especially given the live provenance of this performance. But it is his achievement of seeing the trajectory of the opera through to its incredibly touching end, the death of Boccanegra, that marks this as special. Recommended.
FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Region: 0 (all)
Sound: Audio 5.1 & LPCM
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese
Works on This Recording
Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi
Roberto Scandiuzzi (Bass),
Alan Opie (Baritone),
Mark Beesley (Bass),
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Soprano),
Alexandru Agache (Baritone)
Sir Georg Solti
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Written: 1857; Italy
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