Simon Boccanegra was a Verdi opera that I wasn't familiar with until recently in comparison to other operas of his. It is not my favourite of his operas, but it is still absolutely great. Some of the story is somewhat convoluted, but the music especially Orfanella In Un Tetto Umile, the lovely father-daughter duet that follows and Plebe, Patrizi... is wonderful as is typical of Verdi, the characters while bruisers to sing are interesting with a very complex title character and the final scene is very moving.
This is a great production, and I also recommend highly the 1984 Met production with Milnes, Plishka and Tomowa-Sintow. I personally like the fact the audience is enthusiastic, perhaps there are ends of scenes that didn't need applause, but at least this isn't an audience that applauds or boos during arias(like at the 1983 production of La Traviata) or when a singer does a really impressive top note.
Production values-wise, as is consistently the case with the Met, the production can't be faulted. The sets may not be exactly grand or lavish, but they are impressive as are the costumes, Boccanegra's yellow robe in particular makes him the imposing and important figure that he should be. The orchestra perform with real finesse, and are under the baton of the ever-solid James Levine.
The performances are outstanding. Kiri TeKanawa is an excellent Amelia with an elegant presence and she sings like a nightingale, and Placido Domingo is in fine voice and does more than just singing considering that in some productions I can find Gabriele rather bland. Top honours though go to Robert Lloyd as a superb Fiesco shining especially in the final scene, and particularly Vladmir Chernov who is a contender for the best(and most sympathetic) Simon Boccanegra.
Overall, great production. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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