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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Roberto Frontali, Carmen Giannattasio, and Giacomo Prestia star in this 2007 Teatro Comunale di Bologna production of the Verdi opera conducted by Michele Mariotti.


Simon Boccanegra,was composed in 1857 and revised in 1881 after a cooperative effort with Verdi's new--at that time--librettist, Arrigo Boito. It has always occupied a place of middling popularity in Verdi's oeuvre; there are currently 10 DVDs in the catalog as compared to 30 or so for Aida. The explanation is usually given as too complex a story line (it attempts to convey the actual political maneuvering in medieval Genoa) and lack of popular arias and tenors and sopranos to sing them.

This 2007 production from Bologna is a gem in both artistic measure and staging. The cast is well balanced. Baritones Frontali and Prestia are in mid-career and have strong male tessitura, while the tenor Gipali seems to be straining sometimes. The only female, Carmen Giannattasio, has an attractive lyric soprano with youthful flexibility and range. Her duet with Frontali is beautifully etched (`Figlia'), setting the stage for the ensembles that follow one another to the end. All the principals act quite well--a necessity when most of the action is declamation in a largely male milieu. The staging and costumes are superb and fit with the time and place of the opera.

The recording is in HD with excellent SD+ mastering for this disc. The sets make no attempt to replicate the 1400s, but neither do they default to minimalism. The production uses dark colors and bold imaginary structures (mosaic floor, unadorned marble walls, layered suggestion of the ocean in blue and black) to complement the basic costume colors. These are all believable without overwhelming you with opulence in the Met's (until recent) style. The audio sounds the best using the LPCM track; the German engineers who did the mastering created a virtual center channel that resulted in a believable audio image for both soloists and orchestra. This combined with video images sweep me up in the music and stage action. The young (28) conductor, recently appointed to fill Gatti's place, does not hesitate to interpret the score a bit while offering plenty of guidance to singers and actors. This Simon Boccanegra is what I think good production values should strive for with today's technology and vocal art. -- American Record Guide, Feldman, Nov/Dec 2008

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Roberto Frontali, Giacomo Prestia, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Carmen Giannattasio
  • Directors: Michele Mariotti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (PCM2 .0)
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B0018D892O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,372 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DDD VINE VOICE on December 9, 2008
When this new DVD first surfaced I was interested in view of its pedegree, i.e., an Italisn performance of a Verdi opera--a rareity these days. As it turns out the Gariele is an Albanian, but in Simon it is the lower voices which count for most.

I was familiar with Frontali, the baritone who sings Simon--a Falstaff from the Teatro Bussetto. No Bastiannini nor a Taddei, he is currently the only thing that resembles a Verdi baritone. One could wish for more nuance and light and shadow, both of which exist in the role and for the most part he delivers; alas on the final high A in the great Amelia/Simon duet he is initially flat, recoveers but fails to scale the dynamics down to a "piano". This is a niggling point, but the duet is surely one of Verdi's most glorious and those who know Simon know how the duet should end. The Amelia is a young Italian soprano, Carmen Giannattasio. She is a lyric soprano, quite gifted and intelligent, but as with Te Kanewa the great Council Chamber scene can overwhelm their vocal line. The Gabriele, Giuseppi Gipali is a somewhat provincial singer. He doesn't embarrass himelf but the voice is hardly in the Domingo league and is not likely to acquire any kind of international stardom. The real disappointment in this set is the Fiesco, Giacomo Prestia. He pales next to Plishka and Lloyd, and even worse there is an incipient wobble. Unfortunately the first time I ever heard Il lacerato spirito was an old 78 with Alexander kipnis, one of the greatest basses of the 20th century. And even though a slav his sense of line and legato are perfect--I can't imagine this aria ever being sung better. It really isn't fair to hold today's singers to standards that are apparently unattainable today.
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