Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Verdi: Simon Boccanegra – Radio Broadcast from Sweden

While we are waiting for the Vienna concert to be released commercially... (I was going to say on CD, then I remembered I really don't buy very many CDs any more; and I'm more likely to download it. This makes me wonder how my readers are consuming commercially recorded music these days. Should we take a poll?)

Anyway, while we are waiting for the Vienna concert version of Simon Boccanegra to be released, here is a live performance from the Göteborg Opera (Sweden). I didn't even know what the opera was about, but I knew I'd want to hear it with the upcoming Vienna cast. So anyway, I came across this performance when searching the Web. This opera does not have as many discernible "big tunes" as Traviata or Rigoletto, but I really enjoyed it. (In spite of  – or is it because of? – surplus of basses and baritones and a definite shortage of other voices.) 

This performance is available from Sveriges Radio, for about 19 more days. I am really impressed with the sound of the broadcast, and the quality of the orchestra. The voices are balanced a bit unnaturally; this is disorienting at first. And this is not all world-class singing, and clearly not quite world-famous singers (though there are many world-class singers that most of us haven't heard of yet, and some world-famous singers who really should retire!) But it's exciting to hear what's happening in Sweden. I am not familiar with any of the singers, though I've heard of some of them

The voices sound a bit rough at the start, but everyone seems to warm up as the evening goes on. Stefano Antonucci as Boccanegra actually sounds older in the Prologue than he does in Act 1, and may be heading the end. Malin Bystrom and Arturo Chacón-Cruz as the lovers sound like they're on the way up career-wise, and singers to watch for. There are some juicy choral parts, handled nicely by the Göthenburgers.

Simon Boccanegra - Stefano Antonucci 
Maria Boccanegra (Amelia) - Malin Bystrom
Jacopo Fiesco - Anders Lorentzson 
Gabriele Adorno - Arturo Chacón-Cruz
Paolo - Mats Persson 
Pietro - Marco Stella 

Claus Guth is the stage director (sadly, this is a radio broadcast, so we can't see the production. From the photos, it looks pretty "Guthian." Hey! Guth in Göthenberg! OK, I admit that was lame.) Giancarlo Andretta directs the Göthenburg Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

So, I'm glad I heard it. I am now seeking some different recordings/performances (there are a few at YT) and I'm really looking forward to hearing the Vienna performance!

Swedish translation of the libretto (In case you understand Swedish. Me, not so much.) 

Italian-only libretto:

Found at


  1. I often consume commercially recorded music in CD form - with complete operas especially, I like having the paper booklet. Also, I guess it's just habit. The rows and rows of CDs on my shelves are satisfying, somehow.

    re Guth: those doors in the last photo looks like they were lifted from the Salzburg Figaro (or maybe his Messiah).

  2. I like Simon Boccanegra, along with Don Carlo it'sne of my favourie Verdi operas. I don't buy many CDs anymore. I have tons and do i really need another set of Bethoven symphonies or another recording of Il Nozze di Figaro? I do borrow the occasional CD from the library. Usually it's either a recital disk o something fairly obscure. I have ccasionally bought downloads. I thik the last time it was some vocal peces by Kaija Saariaho.

  3. All my Verdi references begin with the Requiem and on first and second casual hearing, SB reminds me more of the Requiem than any of his other operas I've heard.

    I recently thinned out my CD collection quite a bit. I still buy them for special releases (like Jonas Kaufmann singing Wagner -- or anything) or when a used copy is cheaper than downloading. (I just got the Abbado Simon Boccanegra for 10 bucks.) For operas I miss the booklets. But downloading is my default purchase mode these days. It satisfies my need for instant gratification. :)

  4. Your ears do not deceive you, but now go back and see if some bits sound more like Vespri or Ballo :-)


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