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Perhaps the best performance of a Verdi opera at the Met
David Maxwell Anderson | London | 03/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is a tribute to my love of this production, which I already owned on video, that it was one of my first purchases on the DVD format. Like many people,I have long regarded Simon Boccanegra as a masterpiece on the same level as Otello and Falstaff, and indeed Verdi returned to revise much of the music and libretto after he had completed the former.
Here, each of the principals gives a marvellously involved performance, and the criticisms which can apply to some Met productions about a lack of dramatic credibility, fall by the wayside - del Monaco knows his job and, though traditional, presents a totally believable and visually sumptuous slice of late Renaissance Genoa.
Levine offers a lucid and fluent account of the score, tender and poetic in the scenes between Chernov and te Kanawa, majestic and implaccable with the entrance of Lloyd - without doubt the most moving and sonorous Fiesco I have ever seen.
Domingo defies age, and presents a totally credible Quattrocento figure. He sings with beautiful mezza voce tone in the first duet with te Kanawa and virile splendour in his aria and elsewhere, with only the slightest hint of strain towards the end.
Kiri is vocally pristine as Amelia and her physical beauty is as important an asset in this role as it was as Desdemona - the role of her Met debut.
The virtual disapperance of Chernov after these performances is, to me, incomprehensible. Perhaps his essentially lyric baritone was too slender for the House, but as recorded here he offers a Boccanegra of insight, depth and vulnerabilty. He is a subtler actor than either Milnes or the late, great Cappuccilli, even if he lacks their ringing tones in the Council Chamber scene.I defy anyone with a heart to remain unmoved in his final duet with Lloyd.
I cannot recommend the experience of this performance highly enough. May it convert many people to opera on DVD, Simon Boccanegra, and, above all, Verdi."
Spinto | ct | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simon Boccanegra is greatly underappreciated. For the patient listener, it is an inestimable treasure. The opera may not be ecspecially tuneful, but its epic plot and moving composition, place it at the top of Verdi's Operas. This production has no weak points, it delivers everwhere. First Chernov in the Title role. His voice is very french, with a nasal edge and quick vibrato. He is a Lyric Baritone, which worked very well. Simone is not a powerful and willing leader, he is a man of peace and reflection, who hates shows of force. He is an extremely concilliatory Doge, with a romantic heart. His place as Doge was taken only for the sake of his love for Maria. His Lyrical baritone made the character vulnerable and sypathetic. this something that Milnes could not do with his boccanegra. I cannot imagine the role acted more perfectly, Chernov pulls at your heartstrings all evening. Robert Lloyd as Fiesco was very convincing. he was indeed a "real" bass (I heard his F just fine.) more importatly he is an exemplary actor. Whether playing the enraged old man, desperatley wishing for vengance, or the supplicant father, Lloyd is hauntingly convincing. Bruno Pola deserves his own section as the evil Paolo. His is a baritone of great power. He can easily overpower the more lyric voice of Chernov which is extremely dramatically effective. From a dramatic standpoint, he is a short, fat, man, who was very evocative of the evil character. He was a perfect Paolo. Te Kanawa sang very well as Amelia. It is almost stunning how her beauty completely belies her age. She does not look, or sound, old. She is a really wonderul Amerlia. Domingo is the only bother visually. He is, and looks, 55. At first he looks silly in his youthful armor embracing Amelia. However, he sounds fabulous. And as the opera continues, you forget that he is old. He continues to act and sing like a 30 year old, and by the 2nd act you begin to believe him. his aria is Picture Perfect. Enjoy this operatic treasure"
Jack | USA | 04/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A pleasure to watch this under-appreciated Verdi masterpiece being performed so well. Kanawa has such a beautiful voice and the role of Gabriele fits Domingo like a glove. Dramatically, he grows more and more involved as the story develops. If for no other reason, this DVD is a must, because of the remarkable portrayal by Chernov, as fine an individual performance as I have ever seen, in any role. His acting could not be improved upon and the close ups demonstrate this again and again. Such an impressive voice. A real shame there is so little of his work available, all the more reason to have this DVD."
Fantastic and moving
D. Smith | Toronto, ON Canada | 12/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love almost everything about this opera production. Chernov is a great Boccanegra, and the more I see the dying scenes, the greater I think he is. I was ready to hate Domingo as a young lover. But you know, once I listened, I forgot all about Domingo being older than Simone (Chernov). What he makes of the part is amazing, especially since it's not a very graceful character at all. Te Kanawa is very affecting and very good as Amelia. Their singing the parts of young lovers so well made me realize what great artists they both are. When Amelia and Simone find one another, the moment is magical and perfect. Robert Lloyd was a very good Fiesco and when he and Simone were reconciled, it was a very powerful moment. THis scene is tremendous and the singers act very effectively here. Two fighting men reconciling --- in essence, a son and his father (in law). It is a great moment here; the singers show how important the moment is, without overplaying it either. Even Fiesco's embrace as Simone falls when he is dying, is exactly right because of course someone must catch Simone as he falls and it is right and necessary that it be Fiesco who has wanted him dead all this time. It made me think of how happy Romeo and Juliet could be if their families would stop warring. Every scene was thoughtfully done and seemed right. If every production of this opera were this good, it would be among the most popular of Verdi's operas. It certainly is for me, and that's saying something given how crazy I am about Verdi!"
A Good Traditional Boccanegra
Richard | Minneapolis, Mongolia | 11/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In keeping with a lot of MET productions this is largely traditional. No surprises here. It is well sung even though Te Kanawa is near the end of her career. Domingo does his usual excellent work. Chernov is a great singing actor in the title role. The sound is excellent; the orchestra under James Levine is a known quality. Here he allows the music breathing space, not pushing forward as he can do. Easily preferable to the only other DVD Simon - an earlier MET production with a much weaker cast."