Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

A Rickety Table...

Donald Macleod explores how, after his ordeal bringing the Sicilian Vespers to the stage, Verdi turned his attention to the story of Simon Boccanegra.

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Verdi's "middle period". In Paris, exhausted by the crushing work on The Sicilian Vespers, Verdi had felt so overwhelmed that he said he felt he would never compose anything ever again. Once he got back to his home at Sant'Agata, now, at long last, actually married to his long-term partner Giuseppina Strepponi, he said he couldn't so much as read or write, but could only walk round the fields from morning till evening trying to cure the stomach trouble which was his legacy from the Vespers, fuming aloud: "Damned, damned operas!" After the Parisian ordeal, Giuseppina urged him to focus on what he liked: "In your position... I should look for a libretto I liked, and set it to music without any engagement and in my own time." It emerged that what Verdi liked, revealed in a throw-away line to the librettist Francesco Maria Piave, was the bleak story of the Doge of Genoa: Simon Boccanegra.

I Vespri Siciliani, Act 5 (Merce, dilette amiche)
Martina Arroyo, Soprano (Elena)
John Alldis Choir
New Philharmonia Orchestra
James Levine, Conductor

Simon Boccanegra, Prologue (Che dicesti? / L'altra magion vedete? / A te l'estremo addio... Il lacerato spirito)
Piero Cappuccilli, Baritone (Simon)
Nicolai Ghiaurov, Bass (Fiesco)
Jose van Dam, Baritone (Paolo)
Pietro Giovanni Foiani, Bass)
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatr alla Scala
Claudio Abbado, Conductor

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1, Sc 1 (Come in Quest'ora bruna)
Miriam Gauci, Soprano (Amelia)
BRTN Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels
Alexander Rahbarim, Conductor

Cielo di stelle orbato... & Vieni a mirar la cerula
Simon Boccanegra, Act 1, Sc 2
Berlin Philharmonic / Claudio Abaddo
Angela Gheorghiu / Roberto Alagna

Simon Boccanegra, Act 1 Sc 2
Kiri Te Kanawa, Soprano (Amelia)
Leo Nucci, Baritone (Simon)
Giacomo Aragall, Tenor (Gabriele).
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala
Georg Solti, Conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Les Vepres siciliennes - Merce, dilette amiche

    Choir: The John Alldis Choir. Singer: Plácido Domingo. Singer: Martina Arroyo. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Singer: Sherrill Milnes. Conductor: James Levine.
    • I VESPRI SICILIANI.
    • RCA RED SEAL.
    • 19.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Simon Boccanegra - Prologue

    Conductor: Claudio Abbado. Singer: Piero Cappuccilli. Singer: Nicolaï Ghiaurov. Singer: Giovanni Foiani. Singer: José van Dam.
    • DG 4156922.
    • DG.
    • 5.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Simon Boccanegra - Come in Quest’ora bruna

    Orchestra: Belgian Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Alexander Rahbari. Singer: Miriam Gauci.
    • Discover International: DICD 920225-6.
    • Discover International.
    • 6.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Simon Boccanegra - Come in Quest’ora bruna

    Singer: Angela Gheorghiu. Conductor: Claudio Abbado. Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Singer: Roberto Alagna.
    • EMI : CDC-5 56656-2.
    • EMI.
    • 5.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.