Magazine article Gramophone


Magazine article Gramophone


Article excerpt

Verdi [G] [G*] Simon Boccanegra  Thomas Hampson bar       Simon Boccanegra Kristine Opolais sop               Amelia Carlo Colombara bass        Jacopo Fiesco Joseph Calleja ten        Gabriele Adorno Luca Pisaroni bass-bar      Paolo Albiani Igor Bakan bass-bar                Pietro 

Vienna Singakademie; Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Massimo Zanetti

Decca (F) (2) 478 5354DH02 032' * ODD * T/t)

Recorded live at the Konzerthaus, Vienna, April 12-18, 2013

Over the decades, Simon Boccanegra has not been recorded blithely. Major studio-made sets capture each successive generation of Verdians--the exception to that pattern being Placido Domingo's numerous DVDs, all theatrically convincing in the tide-role but bringing a tenor timbre to an opera whose dark palette arises from three major roles for lower male voices. So this new set is a more accurate statement of where Verdi performance stands at the moment. Not as posh as Claudio Abbado on DG or as emotionally direct as the EMI Gabriele Santini set (with Tito Gobbi), this new set has Thomas Hampson and Joseph Calleja in performances that don't just measure up to the recorded history but shine different kinds of light on the opera.

The overall production--in this Winter's Tale plot of a ruler finding his lost daughter--feels polished amid the warm if slightly diffuse acoustics of the Vienna Konzerthaus. Neither orchestra nor chorus have the benefit of opera-house seasoning but conductor Massimo Zanetti has clearly delved into the score, often with slow-ish tempi that convey the sort of gravity reminding you that Simon Boccanegra is the closest Verdi came to adapting King Lear. …

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