Verdi Simon Boccanegra

Author: 
Alan Blyth
 Verdi - Simon Boccanegra - Abbado Verdi - Simon Boccanegra - Abbado

VERDI Simon Boccanegra

  • 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 con amore but with exemplary, delicately tinted tone and unbelievably long-breathed phrasing. As his daughter Amelia, Freni was just entering her quasi-spinto phase, and expands her lyric voice easily into the greater demands of this more dramatic role. Similarly heavier duties had not yet tarnished the youthful ardour and sap in the tone of the 30-year-old Carreras. As implacable Fiesco, Ghiaurov exudes vengeful command and van Dam evil machinations as the villain Paolo. Sad that most of these singers haven’t rested on the laurels of their golden years, but have continued singing when past their prime.
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.'

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