Verdi's opera, Simon Boccanegra, from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, starring Carlos Alvarez in the title role.
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra
Verdi's dark drama of political intrigue is a story of simmering, long-held resentment that finally resolves into forgiveness and reconciliation. Set in 14th Century Genoa, it tells of a great sea-going hero who reluctantly accepts high office; and who late in life discovers the long-lost daughter who had disappeared years ago. It is one of Verdi's great portrayals of the father-daughter relationship, and the score often glitters with Italian light to offset the dark colours of revenge. Verdi revisited the work in the years of his maturity and transformed the white-hot melodrama into an opera full of subtlety and wisdom that foreshadows his late masterpieces. Carlos Alvarez stars in this production from the Royal Opera House, London.
Presented by Martin Handley with guest Nicholas Baragwanath
Simon Boccanegra.....Carlos Alvarez (Baritone)
Jacopo Fiesco.....Ferruccio Furlanetto (Bass)
Amelia Grimaldi.....Hirachuhi Bassenz (Soprano)
Gabriele Adorno.....Francesco Meli (Tenor)
Paolo Albiani.....Mark Rucker (Baritone)
Pietro.....Simon Shibambu (Bass)
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Royal Opera House Chorus
Henrik Nanasi (Conductor
6.30pm Prologue and Act 1
8.25pm Acts 2 and 3
The election of the Doge is taking place. Paolo’s choice for the plebeian candidate is Simon Boccanegra. Paolo conspires with his ally Pietro, who controls the plebeian vote, to swing the election his way. Paolo persuades Boccanegra to stand: Simon is in love with Maria Fiesco, daughter of one of the great Genoa families, and has had a child by her out of wedlock. Her father Jacopo Fiesco has forbidden her to see Boccanegra, and is keeping Maria a prisoner in the palace. But as Doge, Boccanegra could not be refused the hand of even a Fiesco. Pietro rallies a crowd of citizens to support Boccanegra. After the crowd has dispersed, Fiesco comes out of his palace, griefstricken: Maria has just died. He swears vengeance on Boccanegra for destroying his family, and when he meets Boccanegra does not tell him of Maria’s death. Boccanegra offers him reconciliation, but Fiesco will only forgive him if Simon agrees to return his granddaughter. Boccanegra says that the child has vanished and her whereabouts are unknown. Boccanegra enters the house and discovers Maria’s corpse just before the people pour in and hail him as the new Doge.
Over the next 25 years the Doge exiles many of his political opponents and confiscates their property. Among them is Fiesco. As a result, the patrician has been living in the Grimaldi palace outside the city under the name Andrea Grimaldi, plotting with other nobles to overthrow Boccanegra. The Grimaldis’ sons have also been exiled and with the death of their baby daughter Amelia, the family has been left with no heir to their fortune. The Grimaldi family have for this reason kept the daughter’s death a secret, and substituted her with an orphaned child of unknown parentage. The adopted Amelia, now grown into a young woman, is in fact the daughter of Boccanegra and Maria Fiesco.
Amelia sits awaiting Gabriele Adorno, a nobleman whose father was killed by Boccanegra. She suspects him of being involved in a conspiracy against the Doge and warns him of the possible consequences. An unexpected visit from the Doge is announced. Amelia fears that he has come to force her to marry Paolo, now the Doge’s councillor and favourite, and so urges Adorno to ask Andrea (in reality Fiesco) for permission to marry her first. Fiesco tells Adorno of Amelia’s unknown parentage, then gives the couple his blessing. The Doge grants a pardon to Amelia’s exiled brothers. She confides that she is in love, but not with the loathed Paolo. When she relates the circumstances of her adoption, Boccanegra realizes that she is his long-lost daughter. Boccanegra refuses Paolo permission to marry Amelia. Enraged, Paolo arranges for Amelia to be kidnapped.
In the senate, the Doge urges his councillors to make peace with Venice. The sound of a great commotion interrupts him, and Paolo guesses that his kidnapping plot must have failed. The Doge stops anyone leaving the Council Chamber and orders the doors to be thrown open to the people. A crowd bursts in after Adorno, who admits to killing a plebeian. The plebeian claimed that he kidnapped Amelia at the order of a powerful political figure. Adorno assumes the guilty man to be Boccanegra. Amelia rushes in and prevents her lover attacking her father. She describes her abduction and escape, and just as she is about to identify the person responsible, fighting breaks out again. The Doge imposes order, pleads for peace and makes Adorno a prisoner for the night. Knowing Paolo to be the guilty party, the Doge puts him in charge of finding the man behind the kidnapping. He utters a terrible curse on the criminal and forces everyone, including Paolo, to repeat it, to Paolo’s horror.
Paolo has decided to murder Boccanegra. He has lighted on two possible courses of action. First, he pours a slow-acting poison into the Doge’s drinking water, then he tries to incite Fiesco, whom he has imprisoned, to assassinate Boccanegra in return for his freedom. When Fiesco refuses, Paolo manipulates Adorno into a jealous rage by suggesting that Amelia is the Doge’s mistress. When Amelia walks into the Doge’s private chamber a few moments later, Adorno’s suspicions seem confirmed. Amelia cannot reassure Adorno without revealing her secret. He hides as Boccanegra is heard approaching. Boccanegra is furious when Amelia reveals that her lover is his sworn enemy Adorno. However, he tells his daughter that he will consider pardoning the young nobleman if he repents.
Boccanegra, alone, drinks the poisoned water and falls asleep. Adorno is about to stab him when Amelia returns in time to stop him. Boccanegra wakes up and explains that Amelia is his daughter. Astounded, Adorno begs Amelia’s forgiveness and pledges his life to the Doge. Sounds of shouting alert them to the start of the rebellion. Boccanegra tells Adorno to join his comrades, but Adorno swears allegiance to the Doge. Boccanegra orders him to confront the warring parties and quell the fighting: if he succeeds, Amelia will be his reward.
The uprising has been put down. Paolo has been condemned to death for fighting with the rebels against the Doge. Fiesco is released. On his way to the scaffold, Paolo boasts to Fiesco of having poisoned Boccanegra. Fiesco confronts Boccanegra, who is now succumbing to the effects of the poison. Boccanegra recognizes the voice of his old enemy. He tells Fiesco of Amelia’s true identity. Fiesco, overcome with remorse, reveals Paolo’s treachery. Adorno and Amelia arrive from their wedding to find the two men finally at peace with one another. Boccanegra summons the strength to tell Amelia that Fiesco is her grandfather. As Boccanegra dies, he names Adorno his successor as Doge.