Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MPT broadcasts Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra" (Fathom Event from 2010)

On June 23, some PBS stations, including Maryland Public Television, rebroadcast the Fathom event of the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Simon Boccanegra, originally performed in 1857, but usually performed in the 1881 revision, as is the case here with James Levine conducting (MPT reference here).  Fathom broadcasts opera performances (usually on Saturday afternoons) into selected Regal and AMC theaters, usually selling out.

A reference link for the February 2010 performance is still at the Washington Post site here., with Placido Domingo performing the lead baritone role.

The Met recorded this opera with Domingo and Levine in 1995, on DG.

The Met gives an effective synopsis of the plot (link), based on an 1843 play by Antonio García Gutiérrez, with libretto adapted by Francesco Maria Piave. Like many Italian operas, the plot seems complicated and designed to make a lot points about society and politics, here in 14th century city-state Italy. Much of the story revolves around the identity (disguised for a time) of “doge” Simon’s lost (illegitimate) daughter Amelia, and there is a lot of treachery. But there is also a lot about the passing of family wealth to heirs and the threat of state or church confiscation of property. Curiously, with all its convolutions, the plot has some “libertarian” implications.

The opera does not start with a full overture (at least in the 1881 version) and in the beginning prologue the music has a bit of a lilt. But the music becomes more agitated and dramatic, with some ensemble passages having an effect similar to those toward the end of Verdi’s Requeim (1869). The ending is quiet and hushed (as Boccanegra dies) but major, much like the ending of the Requiem.

The Met will perform the opera again in January 2011, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Simon, with the informative link here.

Camillia0609 offers this aria of Domino on YouTube from a March 2009 Met concert.

Picture: Disco dancing at a Pride block party, Washington DC, 2010.

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