I saw this 2002 production mainly for Karita Mattila, and not only was she great in it but I liked the production a lot. I consider the 1978, 1984, 1991 and 1995 productions superior, however it is far better than the 1998 performance.
Simon Boccanegra is not among Verdi's best, some of the story to me is on the convoluted side, that said I love the counsel scene, the duet between Boccanegra and Fiesco and the sublime Orfanella in Tetto Umile. The music is conducted superbly by Claudio Abbado and the orchestra particularly in the counsel scene and Il Lacerato Spirito are equally impressive.
Visually, this Simon Boccanegra is also effective. The sets are simple, with a lot of blue, and the costumes are fitting and well-tailored. Picture quality and camera work are excellent, sound is clear. When it comes to staging, Il Lacerato Spirito is wonderfully done, but the counsel scene and the duet between Boccanegra and Fiesco were the highlights.
The performances are excellent. Karita Mattila is wonderful, I've always admired her and her performance here didn't change that. Carlo Guelfi is a powerful Boccanegra, very well acted and vocally assured, and Julian Konstantinov apart from an occasionally throaty sound is commanding as Fiesco especially in his duet with Guelfi. The character of Paolo is suitably repellent. For me the weak link was Vincenzo La Scola, in a sense Gabriele Adorno is to me the least interesting character of the opera but while La Scola sings very well he is rather stolid in the acting.
All in all, very good. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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