Author Topic: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra  (Read 2679 times)

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Offline Alberich

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Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« on: January 11, 2016, 08:05:34 AM »
Any fans of this gorgeous Verdi opera? Favorite recordings? Do you prefer the original (1857) or the more well-known revised Boccanegra Verdi did with Boito? I have to confess I haven't even heard the 1857 version. I trust that the revised version is superior and it definitely is one of my favorite italian operas of all time. When I first discovered Boccanegra I started by reading the plot summary and libretto. And it immediately gave me a feeling that I'm going to love this opera, before I had heard even a note from the score. And sure enough, I did. Paolo, the villain, is well rounded in the revision, Boito gave much more flesh around a character that was originally a rather thin caricature of a meddling politician. I adore the opening, that noble, tenderly flowing melody gives me the chills. Not to mention gorgeous sea-music prelude to act 1, glorious council chamber scene, many wonderful ensembles and gravely touching send-off to the bad guy of the opera.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 08:46:03 AM »
I love this Verdi opera too, and have two recordings of it. The magnificent Abbado/La Scala version on DG and the earlier one under Santini, worth hearing for the contributions of Gobbi, Christoff and De Los Angeles.

I don't really know the original version, but most commentators agree that the revisions elevate the opera into one of Verdi's greatest, so I've never felt the need to hear the original version. I also feel that Verdi's final thoughts on the piece should be respected. One of those operas, where Verdi's humanity is evident in almost every bar.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Alberich

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 10:10:18 AM »
I really like Abbado's (the first one I heard) and Solti's (probably my favorite) recording.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline knight66

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2016, 10:46:32 AM »
It is one of my favourite operas; the story does take a bit of getting your head round and there are a lot of low male vocal parts which can cause confusion if you are not following carefully. The tenor role is secondary, rather as in Nabucco. Greg and I shadow one another again, the same two recordings, the only two I have of the piece.

I don't know the earlier version; but I have not read that it might be Worthy of revival.

That opening to Act 1 is magical and the soprano aria following it is very beautiful. It is surprising that it is not better known as a concert piece or on recital discs.

I have seen it twice in London, contrasting productions and each worked well. It is another of Verdi's operas where he explores the father/daughter relationship to the full. The councl chamber scene is another great highlight with one of Verdi's best ensembles. I find the ending a bit muted and undramatic. Perhaps I should look for other than drama in it.

I can hear snatches of the music going through my head: pprobably time I gave it a spin.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2016, 10:48:36 AM »
I really like Abbado's (the first one I heard) and Solti's (probably my favorite) recording.

I don't really know the Solti that well, but I have something of an antipathy to Solti in Verdi, finding his conducting un-lyrical, quite often brash and bombastic. I can't stand his Aida, despite its excellent cast and he ruined Gheorghiu's La Traviata for me (and I did see it in the theatre.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2016, 10:50:19 AM »

 I find the ending a bit muted and undramatic. Perhaps I should look for other than drama in it.



Mike

Funnily enough, I really like that muted, quiet ending. I think it's one of his finest.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 04:42:07 AM »
Not to mention gorgeous sea-music prelude to act 1, glorious council chamber scene, many wonderful ensembles and gravely touching send-off to the bad guy of the opera.

I particularly love the big ensemble in the Council Chamber scene, and the quartet in the final scene with its syncopated soprano line.

I do have recordings of the original/alternate versions of many of Verdi's operas, including Boccanegra.  I was just listening to the original Traviata yesterday.  The revision's definitely an improvement.

The Abbado's the only recording of the revised version I've ever owned, first on LPs, then on CD. 
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

Offline Alberich

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2016, 05:56:16 AM »
I have to admit the ending was bit of an anti-climax (probably one of my only minor scruples with this opera).
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2016, 07:17:04 AM »
I couldn't find any Callas connection with Boccanegra except when she was tutoring Willard White at Juilliard in 1975, in the aria, "Il Lacerato Spirito". Does anyone know otherwise?
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2016, 08:45:42 AM »
I couldn't find any Callas connection with Boccanegra except when she was tutoring Willard White at Juilliard in 1975, in the aria, "Il Lacerato Spirito". Does anyone know otherwise?

She never sang any of the music from it. I think that Masterclass is just about all you will find.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline mjwal

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2016, 09:36:22 AM »
I think that all lovers of a) this opera b) great conducting c) great singing owe it to themselves to hear the live recording from the Metropolitan conducted by Ettore Panizza in 1939 with Lawrence Tibbett in the title role, Rethberg, Martinelli, Pinza and Warren. The sound on the cheapo Cantus issue (about 5€ or so) is not much but you soon forget its inadequacy; I believe there is a refurbished version by Caniell on Immortal Performances that sounds much better. The Abbado recording offers a more nuanced and subtle performance (and recording, naturally) but the Panizza blows your mind if you aren't turned off by the sound quality.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
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Peter Porter

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2016, 09:40:13 AM »
I have to admit the ending was bit of an anti-climax (probably one of my only minor scruples with this opera).

And yet I love its quiet, resigned ending. Am I the only one?
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

kishnevi

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2016, 10:01:08 AM »
And yet I love its quiet, resigned ending. Am I the only one?

You are not.
A comparison/contrast opera you might be interested in is Leoncavallo's I Medici.  Not the quiet ending, but more than a few things that reminded me of Boccanegra. I have the recording on DG which includes Domingo.  It maybe the only recording available...and was, I think, Domingo's last recording as a tenor.

Offline Alberich

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2016, 10:24:43 AM »
And yet I love its quiet, resigned ending. Am I the only one?

There is much inventiveness in it and I definitely wouldn't say I dislike it. It's just not as good as the rest of the opera, IMO.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2016, 10:32:31 AM »
You are not.
A comparison/contrast opera you might be interested in is Leoncavallo's I Medici.  Not the quiet ending, but more than a few things that reminded me of Boccanegra. I have the recording on DG which includes Domingo.  It maybe the only recording available...and was, I think, Domingo's last recording as a tenor.

Thanks for the tip. I don't know it at all. I'll have to seek it out.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2016, 10:33:27 AM »
There is much inventiveness in it and I definitely wouldn't say I dislike it. It's just not as good as the rest of the opera, IMO.

But I can't see it ending any other way. I think it's perfect for teh opera.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline knight66

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2016, 03:16:50 PM »
I think that all lovers of a) this opera b) great conducting c) great singing owe it to themselves to hear the live recording from the Metropolitan conducted by Ettore Panizza in 1939 with Lawrence Tibbett in the title role, Rethberg, Martinelli, Pinza and Warren. The sound on the cheapo Cantus issue (about 5€ or so) is not much but you soon forget its inadequacy; I believe there is a refurbished version by Caniell on Immortal Performances that sounds much better. The Abbado recording offers a more nuanced and subtle performance (and recording, naturally) but the Panizza blows your mind if you aren't turned off by the sound quality.

I found two editions of this performance on Spotify, neither illustration of the covers give the name of the issuing company, but one sounds very much more vivid than the other. I will listen to it this week, I sampled it and noticed the pest with so many older live performances, the prompt is picked up by the microphones, I will have to try to ignore him, but what a cast, thanks.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2016, 11:04:03 AM »
I saw this magnificent opera in Lyon last year.  What I found facinating was the historical aspects of the opera: an insurrection outside the aristocratic circles capable to seize power over the noble families that held Genova power.  Here is a U-tube excerpt of this production

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0fPV3QnINI&feature=youtu.be

and the description of the production

http://v.calameo.com/?bkcode=000904682220b26652c3b

I do not own any recording/DVD of this opera and would be quite interested by some suggestions...

Offline knight66

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2016, 11:27:13 AM »
Welcome Spineur, I think that the safest recommendations have been mentioned above. The Abbado is terrifically well conducted and has very good singers in it and good sound. The old EMI version has three amazing singers, Gobbi, Christoff and Victoria de los Angeles. The sound is in mono and the conducting is less dramatic. I would not want to be without either set of discs.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Spineur

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Re: Verdi's Simon Boccanegra
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2016, 12:24:01 PM »
Welcome Spineur, I think that the safest recommendations have been mentioned above. The Abbado is terrifically well conducted and has very good singers in it and good sound. The old EMI version has three amazing singers, Gobbi, Christoff and Victoria de los Angeles. The sound is in mono and the conducting is less dramatic. I would not want to be without either set of discs.
Thanks a lot !  I am always amazed to see that one has to go back nearly forty years to find a good recording even for operas that  are regularly produced around the world...