WORKS: SImon Boccanegra
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Stephen Gaertner, Richard Bernstein, James Morris, Adrianne Pieczonka, Marcello Giordani, Joyce El-Khoury, Adam Laurence Herskowitz; The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus/James Levine; dir. Giancarlo del Monaco (New York, 2010)
CATALOGUE NO: 88697806649
Met audiences were able to see Plácido Domingo’s assumption of the baritone title role of Verdi’s opera in February 2010, when Giancarlo del Monaco’s lavish, ultra-traditional 1995 production was broadcast in HD. As in London, the result is far more than just a trick of vocal management. The tenor explores the role emotionally in some depth, and can supply all the notes, regularly sounding like a baritone – though not a top-class one. At the age of 69, he cannot really find the hard solid core of tone at the centre of the true Verdi baritone, and in a register that runs counter to the nature of his voice.
Adrianne Pieczonka brings strength and lyricism to an Amelia more purposively acted than usual. James Morris, at 63, has acquired a wobble to his tone that indicates Fiesco’s age but not his determination. As hothead Gabriele Adorno, tenor Marcello Giordani is also past his prime, his tone losing fleshiness and richness. Vocally, this is not one of the Met’s great evenings, though conductor James Levine upholds the highest Verdian standards in the pit, producing playing of immense refinement and detail imbued with the complex spirit of the score.
Designed by Michael Scott, del Monaco’s staging looks a period-piece by European standards. Almost cinematically realistic, its grand sets are in their way magnificent; the Council Chamber scene gets a round of applause on curtain up. It’s not a searching production, however, with stiff and solid rather than spontaneous characterisation. George Hall