Dec. 12, 2021, 8 p.m.
[Text by Opernhaus Zurich] Giuseppe Verdi had a soft spot for dusky timbres and deep voices, which feature heavily in his operas Macbeth, Il trovatore, and Don Carlo. Simon Boccanegra isn’t as famous, but is no less beautiful than its siblings – and features the same dark moods and conflicts, sung by primarily male voices. The baritone role of Simon Boccanegra is the main character in this drama about a societal outcast, and draws on medieval history: Boccanegra was elected the first doge of the city of Genoa. His rival is Jacopo Fiesco, who represents the power of the aristocracy and is sung by a bass. Although Verdi is interested in the political conflict between these two social strata, he pays no less attention to his protagonist’s fractured family structure. In the opera, Boccanegra learns of his beloved’s death, but also finds his long-lost daughter. The third low voice in this emotional whirlwind is Paolo Albiani, sung by a bass-baritone, who morphs from Boccanegra’s friend into his mortal enemy, bringing about the opera’s tragic end.
Andreas Homoki realized this production in the middle of the pandemic, and its extraordinary premiere was celebrated with only 50 audience members in attendance and a huge television audience watching on Arte from their homes. Because the chorus – and with it the power of the people – could only appear aurally, and not on stage, Andreas Homoki made the opera into a chamber play, aided by Christian Schmidt’s labyrinthine set design. Homoki created fleshed-out characters, as well as a clear and suspense-filled narrative arc. In order to facilitate the opera’s multiple time periods, his production allowed for imaginary spaces of memory. For this revival, we were able to secure French baritone Ludovic Tézier, a celebrated Verdi interpreter who bowed most recently as Boccanegra at the Opéra de Paris. Jennifer Rowley, Christoph Fischesser, and Nicholas Brownlee all return to Zurich, recreating the roles they originated for the highly praised premiere.
Kulturstelle contact: Alexander Fink email
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