Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

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WORKS: Simon Boccanegra
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Marina Poplavskaya, Joseph Calleja, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Jonathan Summers, Lukas Jakobski; Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus/Antonio Pappano; dir. Elijah Moshinsky


Plácido Domingo’s assumption of a major baritone role is the main event here, recorded over three performances of Elijah Moshinsky’s well-rehearsed and safely traditional production (1990) at Covent Garden in July 2010.

The result is far more than a vanity project. Simon Boccanegra is a baritone role, and Domingo remains a tenor; the strains and stresses carefully written into the part as conceived for baritone are not present when sung by a tenor, even Domingo. Yet overall he makes a remarkably moving and complex creation out of it.


He’s surrounded by a generally fine cast. Marina Poplavskaya is expressive – physically and vocally – as his daughter Amelia. Ferruccio Furlanetto presents Boccanegra’s antagonist, Fiesco, in an amply voiced performance that nevertheless has a monolithic quality and suffers from an occasional tendency to shout rather than sing. Veteran Verdian baritone Jonathan Summers is worn but malevolent in his sharply etched portrayal of the venomous Paolo. But the vocal honours go to Joseph Calleja, possessor of one of the loveliest tenor voices around, whose singing as Gabriele Adorno is consistently imaginative and discriminating. George Hall