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Live from Milan - Opera Simon Boccanegra by Verdi

Monday, 5 February 2024 , ora 10.07

Just a few weeks after Don Carlo, another Verdi drama, Simon Boccanegra, premieres on the stage of the famous Teatro alla Scala. The score was presented to the public for the first time in its final version right here in Milan in 1881, after Giuseppe Verdi and one of his librettists, Arrigo Boito, subjected it to revision processes. However, it took a long time for the opera to enter the "classic," "standard" repertoire, gaining successful revivals in 1965 when conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni. It truly garnered widespread appreciation only with the already legendary version at the opening of the 1971-1972 season, a collaboration between conductor Claudio Abbado and director Giorgio Strehler. We are listening live on Radio România Muzical on Thursday, February 1st, 2024, at 9:00 PM, to a new production directed by Daniele Abbado and conducted by Lorenzo Viotti.

The new production follows the one from 2010, directed by Federico Tiezzi, and features baritone Luca Salsi in the leading role, one of the most acclaimed Verdi artists of the moment. Alongside him, soprano Eleonora Buratto performs in the role of Amelia (a role alternately performed by soprano Anita Hartig, present at La Scala on the evenings of February 21st and 24th). The cast also includes Estonian bass Ain Anger, portraying Jacopo Fiesco, as well as tenor Charles Castronovo, making his debut on the Milanese stage in the role of Gabriele Adorno.

Simon Boccanegra is a significant opera both for Giuseppe Verdi's career and for the history of La Scala. This time, the new production is also personally important from the perspective of Lorenzo Viotti, a 33-year-old conductor making his debut in the Verdi repertoire at La Scala. As the son of orchestra conductor Marcello Viotti, Lorenzo shares in an interview with La Scala magazine that Simon Boccanegra was the first opera he attended in the theater at the age of five, with his father conducting. "I am convinced that this is the musical testimony of Verdi. Of course, two masterpieces and Pezzi sacriwere to follow , but the distance between these and Boccanegra is enormous and indicative. The refinement of the musical values of the score, the speed given to the dramatic action by the conciseness of the few closed numbers, the new singing style, all these say it all. And the same general nuance: the first version was sad, the second even sadder. Almost everyone has their version. Or, rather, the opera is told to each person differently." Similar considerations inspire director Daniele Abbado, the son of Claudio Abbado: "I'm not sure there is a real reconciliation at the end of the opera. There is: between Simone and Gabriele Adorno, between Amelia and Fiesco, but between Simone and his people there's a big question mark left. The ending remains, for me, a bitter one. That's why I will follow Verdi's legend, so that when Simone dies, there will be total darkness in the theater."

The opera focuses on the pirate Simon Boccanegra, who, through various political intrigues, is elected as the doge of the city-state of Genoa, despite the opposition from his rival, Jacopo Fiesco. The two men have a connection through Maria, Fiesco's daughter and Boccanegra's lover, who died long ago. The daughter she bore to Boccanegra, Amelia, disappeared without a trace. Twenty-five years later, Amelia reappears in Genoa and becomes entangled in a power struggle that ultimately costs Boccanegra his life.

Interview by Irina Cristina Vasilescu
Translated by Georgiana Morozii,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II Corrected by Silvia Petrescu