VERDI Simon Boccanegra
Whichever of these recordings of this remarkable, nay unique work you have listened to last is likely to be the one you prefer at that moment, such are their many and varying attributes. In its new guise, remastered, at mid price in The Originals series, the Abbado must now be a very strong contender. In any case, whatever the considerable merits of its rivals, it has become a gramophone classic, a performance in the studio after a series of performances at La Scala in the Strehler staging, which none of us lucky enough to have caught it on the company’s cherished visit to Covent Garden in 1976 is ever likely to forget.
The close, slightly claustrophobic recording exactly mirrors the mood of nefarious activities and intrigues following Boccanegra’s rise to be Doge of Genoa, he and his lovely daughter victims of the dark deeds round them. In his plebeian being, clement exercise of authority and warm, fatherly love, Simon Boccanegra is made for Cappuccilli who, under Abbado’s tutelage, sings it not only
Over all presides Abbado in what remains one of his greatest recordings, alert to every facet of the wondrous score, timing every scene, in an opera tricky to pace, to near-perfection, and in sum bringing theatrical drama into the home. You, like me, may prefer this or that aspect of the other sets, but this one should now be an essential adornment to any reputable collection of Verdi.'