[Met Performance] CID:200580
Simon Boccanegra {47} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/9/1964.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 9, 1964


SIMON BOCCANEGRA {47}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave/Arrigo Boito

Simon Boccanegra........Anselmo Colzani
Amelia..................Renata Tebaldi
Gabriele Adorno.........George Shirley
Jacopo Fiesco...........Giorgio Tozzi
Paolo Albiani...........William Walker
Pietro..................Norman Scott
Maid....................Nadyne Brewer
Captain.................Robert Nagy

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva

Production..............Margaret Webster
Stage Director..........Michael Manuel
Set designer............Frederick Fox
Costume designer........Motley

Simon Boccanegra received seven performances this season.

Review of Irving Kolodin in the December 26, 1964 issue of the Saturday Review


If the abilities of the late Dimitri Mitropoulos hovered in the mind during the Philharmonic's "Elektra," there was almost an aching absence of them in the Metropolitan's first venture with "Simon Boccanegra" in four years. For it was the last new production he prepared for that stage before his death in Milan ( barely more than six months after Leonard Warren, the Boccanegra of that production, collapsed and died during a performance of "Forza").

This was, in all, a Boccanegra that was prime in only one respect - as an example of a creditable production gone to middle-aged seed. The kind of steady leadership provided by Fausto Cleva may also be termed static, and the kind of animation that Renata Tebaldi has supplied for some other lagging ventures in the past is no longer readily at her command. There were some beautifully formed phrases in her Amelia, but only where the line crested at G or below. Higher than that, the sound came only through a rude rather than a well-controlled, artfully cultivated physical effort. In his own terms, George Shirley did creditably in his first venture as Gabriel Adorno, but this hardly puts him in the Verdian category of such a predecessor as Richard Tucker, not to mention his predecessor, Giovanni Martinelli.

As Boccanegra, Anselmo Colzani is neither the vibrant dramatic figure nor the compelling vocal one to support the responsibility put upon the performer of Verdi's title role. He manages a solid order of accomplishment in the council chamber scene, but there was not the vocal finesse to give the effect the composer intended to Boccanegra's "figlia!" at the end of the preceding episode, or the personality to command the stage in the scene of his death. For another detail, Giorgio Tozzi's voice does not now get down to the bottom required of a proper Fiesco, and William Walker, as a replacement for Justino Diaz as Paolo, performed but a well-sounding walk-through of the role. Physically the Frederick Fox decor has its attractive aspects, and there are evidences still of Margaret Webster's shaping hand as director. But "Simon Boccanegra" is only partially spectacle, partially music drama, partially older-fashioned opera; it is mostly an incomplete product of Verdi's capacious mind, here rising to heights of musical characterization, there holding to an indecisive level of set pieces. It needs a degree of galvanizing that these participants did not provide.



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