Simon Boccanegra

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Simon Boccanegra
Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi, Simon Boccanegra first edition libretto for the 1881 revision of the opera - Restoration.jpg
First edition libretto for the 1881 revision
Language Italian
Based on Antonio García Gutiérrez's Simón Bocanegra (1843)
  • 12 March 1857 (1857-03-12) (first version)
  • 24 March 1881 (1881-03-24) (second version)

Simon Boccanegra (Italian:  [siˈmom ˌbokkaˈneːɡra] ) is an opera with a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Simón Bocanegra (1843) by Antonio García Gutiérrez, whose play El trovador had been the basis for Verdi's 1853 opera, Il trovatore .

Opera Artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Giuseppe Verdi 19th-century Italian opera composer

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.


Simon Boccanegra was first performed at Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 12 March 1857. Given the complications of the original plot and the generally poor popular response – although the critical one was more encouraging – the opera dropped out of favour after 1866. Finally, 23 years later, Verdi's publisher persuaded the composer to revise the opera, with text changes to be prepared by Arrigo Boito, the librettist who aspired to work with the aging composer on a project which eventually became a new opera, Otello , but to which Verdi had not totally committed at that time.

La Fenice Opera house in Venice, Italy

Teatro La Fenice is an opera house in Venice, Italy. It is one of "the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre", and in the history of opera as a whole. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers – Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi – were performed.

Venice Comune in Veneto, Italy

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers. In 2018, 260,897 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.

Arrigo Boito Italian opera composer and librettist of Verdis opera Otello

Arrigo Boito was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist, librettist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's last two monumental operas Otello and Falstaff and his own opera Mefistofele. Along with Emilio Praga and his own brother Camillo Boito, he is regarded as one of the prominent representatives of the Scapigliatura artistic movement.

The revised version of Simon Boccanegra, with the now-famous Council Chamber scene, was first performed at La Scala in Milan on 24 March 1881. It is this version which is the one most frequently performed today.

La Scala Opera house in Milan, Italy

La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.

Composition history: the 1857 version

Verdi in 1859 Verdi in 1859.jpg
Verdi in 1859

Musicologist and author Julian Budden points to three projects which the composer had in mind when, at the beginning of 1855, he turned down an invitation from La Fenice to write a new opera for them for the following year. He responded: "the chief obstacle is my unshakable determination not to bind myself anymore to a definite period for either the composition or the production". [1] While that approach did not turn out to be practicable at that time, it was an ultimate goal and, in aiming to achieve it, his partner of the previous four years, Giuseppina Strepponi greatly encouraged it when she wrote to him at the time of his frustrations two years earlier when working in Paris on Les vêpres siciliennes.

Julian Medforth Budden was a British opera scholar, radio producer and broadcaster. He is particularly known for his three volumes on the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, a single-volume biography in 1982 and a single-volume work on Giacomo Puccini and his operas in 2002. He is also the author of numerous entries in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Giuseppina Strepponi Italian singer

Clelia Maria Josepha (Giuseppina) Strepponi was a nineteenth-century Italian operatic soprano of great renown and the second wife of composer Giuseppe Verdi.

<i>Les vêpres siciliennes</i> opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Les vêpres siciliennes is a grand opera in five acts by the Italian romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi set to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier from their work Le duc d'Albe, which was written in 1838. Les vêpres followed immediately after Verdi's three great mid-career masterpieces, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata of 1850 to 1853 and was first performed at the Paris Opéra on 13 June 1855.

The only project for which there was forward motion was towards accomplishing his long-planned Re Lear , an opera to be based on King Lear , for which his new librettist (following Salvadore Cammarano's death) was Antonio Somma. But a year later, when overseeing a revival of La traviata at La Fenice, he agreed to a new opera for that house for the 1856/7 season, [2] and he proposed the Gutiérrez play, which Budden presumes he had read in translation. Budden also presumes that the translation had been done by Strepponi, [3] because she had been the translator of Gutiérrez' other play which had become Il trovatore.

<i>Re Lear</i> Italian operatic libretto in four acts written by Antonio Somma for the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi

Re Lear is an Italian operatic libretto in four acts written by Antonio Somma for the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. It was based on King Lear, "the Shakespeare play with which Verdi struggled for so many years, but without success".

<i>King Lear</i> play by William Shakespeare

King Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It tells the tale of a king who bequeaths his power and land to two of his three daughters, after they declare their love for him in an extremely fawning and obsequious manner. His third daughter gets nothing, because she will not flatter him as her sisters had done. When he feels disrespected by the two daughters who now have his wealth and power, he becomes furious to the point of madness. He eventually becomes tenderly reconciled to his third daughter, just before tragedy strikes her and then the king.

Salvadore Cammarano Italian librettist and playwright

Salvadore Cammarano was a prolific Italian librettist and playwright perhaps best known for writing the text of Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) for Gaetano Donizetti.

The somewhat convoluted plot of Simon Boccanegra can be hard to follow. Budden notes: "All the characters define themselves against an ingeniously shifting pattern of intrigue such as can be highly effective in a play but well-nigh impossible to follow in an opera". [3] Verdi had gone so far as to actually write out the scenario in prose, which he then submitted to Piave in August; all that he expected from his librettist was that it would be turned into poetry, so Verdi balked somewhat when the censors demanded a complete poetic version: "what does it matter for the moment it's in prose or verse?" [4] He pushed harder, stating that "I plan to compose music for a prose libretto! What do you think of that?" [5] In the end, there was a poetic version and all was well: it was accepted by the opera house and the censors.

Beginning in July and throughout most of the period of the preparation of the libretto, the composer and Strepponi had been in Paris taking care of securing various performance and publication rights, including working on a translated version of Il trovatore, the opera which became Le trouvère. Piave was informed that Verdi's stay would need to be lengthened and everything would be handled between them and the Venetian authorities by mail.

However, Verdi's dissatisfaction with some of the librettist's work led him to find a local collaborator to help revise some of the sections. Accordingly, he called upon an Italian exile in Paris, the politician, former professor of law, poet and writer Giuseppe Montanelli, [6] to do this. Piave learned nothing of the revisions until he received a note from Verdi: "Here is the libretto, shortened and altered more or less as it must be. You can put your name to or it, just as you please". However, he also learned nothing of the anonymous collaborator either. [7] After the premiere of Le trouvère on 12 January 1857, Verdi and Strepponi left Paris to return to Italy, then both went to Venice for the March premiere.

However, the relationship was soon restored and Piave came to Sant'Agata in April to work on some revisions, but it was the libretto which came in for the heaviest criticism: "It was generally condemned as one of the most unintelligible to have reached the stage" notes Kimbell and its general dark and gloomy feel was to affect its fortunes for many years. [8]

Composition history: the 1881 revision

Doge's costume for the 1881 revision Boccanegra-costume for 1881.png
Doge's costume for the 1881 revision

In 1868, Giulio Ricordi suggested the idea of revisions to Boccanegra; the idea was again broached ten years later, early in 1879, but was shrugged off by Verdi with a note saying that the 1857 score, which had been sent to the composer for review, would remain untouched "just as you sent it to me". [9] Persisting with further attempts to convince the composer, Ricordi had also broached the idea of a collaboration with Arrigo Boito for a new opera based on Shakespeare's Othello . Musicologist Roger Parker speculates that Verdi's final agreement to revise Boccanegra was based on a desire to "test the possibility" of working with Boito before possibly embarking on the larger project. [10]

Once Verdi began to re-look at his earlier work, objections – and new ideas – began to emerge: "the score is not possible as it stands" and "I shall have to redo all the second act [1857: act 2, which became act 1 in the 1881 revision] and give it more contrast and variety, more life" are examples of his reasoning, which he laid out in a letter to Ricordi in November 1880. [11] His principal concern was how to make changes to the 1857, act 2. "I have said in general it needs something to give life and variety to the drama's excessive gloom", he writes [11] and he continues by recalling:

two magnificent letters of Petrarch's, one addressed to [the historical] Boccanegra, the other to the [then-]Doge of Venice, warning them not to start a fratricidal war, and reminding them that both were sons of the same mother, Italy, and so on. This idea of an Italian fatherland at this time was quite sublime! [11]

In spite of the complexity of many of Boito's proposed ideas, along with his alternative scenarios, which are expressed in a long letter to Verdi [12] (most of which the composer regarded as excessive), the Council Chamber scene emerged as the focus of the new collaboration. Although he had confidence in the young librettist's abilities ("[The scene] written by you could not possibly be dull" [13] ), Verdi did caution Boito that he appeared to be "aiming at a perfection impossible here. I [Verdi] aim lower and am more optimistic than you and I don't despair", [13] in essence, expressing an unwillingness to re-write the opera as completely as Boito had proposed. It would have been far more work than the composer wished to be involved in at the time.

The pair spent the latter part of 1880 and into January 1881 with back-and-forth additions and revisions (the composer in Genoa, the librettist in Milan and meeting only once), [14] all of which are heavily documented in the Verdi-Boito correspondence, the Carteggio Verdi-Boito, and significantly quoted in Budden. All this was the build-up to performances in Milan the following March, although the composer was constantly concerned about the suitability of the singers engaged there for that season, and he threatened to withdraw the opera on more than one occasion. [14]

The result was the contrast, which Parker describes, between the original 1857 act 2 finale, "set in a large square in Genoa, [as] a conventional four-movement concertante finale, a grand ceremonial scene" whereas, in the 1881 revision, "[Verdi] injected into the heart of the work an episode of enormous vividness and power, enriching the character of Boccanegra in such a way that his subsequent death scene gains considerably in impressiveness". [15] And, as Budden puts it, "Simone (sic) rises to spiritual greatness. For the first time, his moral authority puts forth all its strength, ... positively as in the appeal for peace ..." [16]

Performance history

Original 1857 version

Francesco Maria Piave, librettist of the 1857 version Francesco Maria Piave - Granger.jpg
Francesco Maria Piave, librettist of the 1857 version

While not a popular success, it did garner some critical acclaim, "with the music being praised for its fidelity to the text, the orchestration for its elegance, the melody for its inspiration" noted the Gazzetta Musicale, [6] but Budden notes that "complaints of 'obscurity', 'severity', harmonic abstruseness' are heard from even the most respectful of critics". [17] And Verdi himself was fairly blunt in his assessment: "I've had a fiasco in Venice almost as great as that of La traviata" he reported to Clara Maffei. [18]

Following its 1857 premiere, Simon Boccanegra was performed in Reggio Emilia, "where it triumphed ...  ... and again in Naples in 1858 ..." [17] There was similar acclaim after the Rome presentation about the same time, but "on the other hand, Boccanegra had been laughed off the stage in Florence" and "had been a fiasco at La Scala in 1859". [17]

It was given in Malta in 1860, Madrid and Lisbon in 1861, and Buenos Aires and Montevideo in 1862, but, after that, it almost completely disappeared with only a sporadic performance or two, including Corfu in 1870 and Alexandria in late 1880. [19]

A concert performance of the original version, possibly its first hearing in 100 years (and its UK premiere), took place at the Golders Green Hippodrome in London on 2 August 1975 before an invited audience "masterminded" [19] by Julian Budden with Sesto Bruscantini in the title role and Andre Turp as Gabriele. This production was broadcast on 1 January 1976 and issued on CD. It was also performed by the Royal Opera, London as a concert performances in June 1995 [8] with Anthony Michaels-Moore and Jose Cura and staged at Covent Garden in June 1997 with Sergei Leiferkus and Plácido Domingo in the two aforementioned male roles. The Amelias in the 1995 and 1997 versions were Amanda Roocroft and Kallen Esperian respectively. [19]

Set design by Girolamo Magnani for 1881 revision Simone Boccanegra (1881) 03.jpg
Set design by Girolamo Magnani for 1881 revision

In August 1999 there was a set of performances at the Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca, which was recorded. That same year it was given by New York Grand Opera, this being its first New York performance. [20] Sarasota Opera, in its "Verdi Cycle" series of all of the composer's works, gave it its American premiere in 1992. [21]

Revised version of 1881

It is this later version, unveiled in 1881 in Milan, and given in Vienna and Paris in 1882 and 1883, respectively, that has become part of the standard operatic repertory. [22] The British premiere did not occur until 1948, when it was given in English at Sadler's Wells, with Arnold Matters (Simone), James Johnston (Adorno), Joyce Gartside (Amelia) and Howell Glynne (Fiesco). [23]


Role Voice type Premiere cast
12 March 1857 [24]
(Conductor: – )
Revised version
Premiere cast
24 March 1881 [24]
(Conductor: Franco Faccio) [25]
Simon Boccanegra, a corsair,
later the first Doge of Genoa
baritone Leone Giraldoni Victor Maurel
Jacopo Fiesco, a Genoese nobleman,
known as Andrea Grimaldi
bass Giuseppe Echeverria Édouard de Reszke
Maria Boccanegra, his adopted daughter and actual granddaughter,
known as Amelia Grimaldi
soprano Luigia Bendazzi Anna D'Angeri
Gabriele Adorno, a Genoese gentleman tenor Carlo Negrini Francesco Tamagno
Paolo Albiani, a goldsmith and the
Doge's favourite courtier
baritone Giacomo VercelliniFederico Salvati
Pietro, a Genoese popular leader
and courtier
bass Andrea Bellini Giovanni Bianco
Captain of the Crossbowmen tenor Angelo Fiorentini
Amelia's maid mezzo-soprano Fernanda Capelli
Soldiers, sailors, people, senators, the Doge's court, prisoners – Chorus


Time: The middle of the 14th century.
Place: In and around Genoa.
Arrigo Boito, librettist of the 1881 revision Arrigo Boito.jpg
Arrigo Boito, librettist of the 1881 revision


(Act 1 in the 1857 original)

A piazza in front of the Fieschi palace [11] [26]

Paolo Albiani, a plebeian, tells his ally Pietro that in the forthcoming election of the Doge, his choice for the plebeian candidate is Simon Boccanegra. Boccanegra arrives and is persuaded to stand when Paolo hints that if Boccanegra becomes Doge, the aristocratic Jacopo Fiesco will surely allow him to wed his daughter Maria. When Boccanegra has gone, Paolo gossips about Boccanegra's love affair with Maria Fiesco – Boccanegra and Maria have had a child, and the furious Fiesco has locked his daughter away in his palace. Pietro rallies a crowd of citizens to support Boccanegra. After the crowd has dispersed, Fiesco comes out of his palace, stricken with grief; Maria has just died (Il lacerato spirito – "The tortured soul of a sad father"). He swears vengeance on Boccanegra for destroying his family. When he meets Boccanegra he does not inform him of Maria's death. Boccanegra offers reconciliation and Fiesco promises clemency only if Boccanegra lets him have his granddaughter. Boccanegra explains he cannot because the child, put in the care of a nurse, has vanished. He enters the palace and finds the body of his beloved just before crowds pour in, hailing him as the new Doge.

Act 1

(Act 2 in the 1857 original)

Leo Nucci and Barbara Frittoli sing "Figlia! a tal nome io palpito" at the Liceu, 2015
[Twenty-five years have passed. Historically the action has moved from 1339, the year of Simon's election in the prologue, forward to 1363, the year of the historical Simone Boccanegra's death – for acts 1, 2 and 3.]
[The Doge has exiled many of his political opponents and confiscated their property. Among them is Jacopo Fiesco, who has been living in the Grimaldi palace, using the name Andrea Grimaldi to avoid discovery and plotting with Boccanegra's enemies to overthrow the Doge. The Grimaldis have adopted an orphaned child of unknown parentage after discovering her in a convent (she is in fact Boccanegra's child, Maria – known as Amelia – named after her mother, and she is Fiesco's granddaughter). They called her Amelia, hoping that she would be the heir to their family's fortune, their sons having been exiled and their own baby daughter having died. Amelia is now a young woman.]

Scene 1: A garden in the Grimaldi palace, before sunrise

Amelia is awaiting her lover, Gabriele Adorno (Aria:Come in quest'ora bruna – "How in the morning light / The sea and stars shine brightly"). She suspects him of plotting against the Doge and when he arrives she warns him of the dangers of political conspiracy. Word arrives that the Doge is coming. Amelia, fearing that the Doge will force her to marry Paolo, now his councilor, urges Adorno to ask her guardian Andrea (in reality, Fiesco) for permission for them to marry: Sì, sì dell'ara il giubilo / contrasti il fato avverso – "Yes, let the joy of marriage be set against unkind fate".

[1857 original version: the duet ended with a cabaletta (set to the same words as the 1881 text) [27] then "a coda and a battery of chords followed by applause."] [28]

Fiesco reveals to Adorno that Amelia is not a Grimaldi, but a foundling adopted by the family. When Adorno says that he does not care, Fiesco blesses the marriage. Boccanegra enters and tells Amelia that he has pardoned her exiled brothers. She tells him that she is in love, but not with Paolo, whom she refuses to marry. Boccanegra has no desire to force Amelia into a marriage against her will. She tells him that she was adopted and that she has one souvenir of her mother, a picture in a locket. The two compare Amelia's picture with Boccanegra's, and Boccanegra realizes that she is his long-lost daughter. Finally reunited, they are overcome with joy. Amelia goes into the palace. Soon after, Paolo arrives to find out if Amelia has accepted him. Boccanegra tells him that the marriage will not take place. Furious, Paolo arranges for Amelia to be kidnapped.

Scene 2: The council chamber

[1881 revision: This entire scene was added by Verdi and Boito in place of the 1857 scene, which took place in a large square in Genoa.] [29] [30]

The Doge encourages his councillors to make peace with Venice. He is interrupted by the sounds of a mob calling for blood. Paolo suspects that his kidnapping plot has failed. The Doge prevents anyone leaving the council chamber and orders the doors to be thrown open. A crowd bursts in, chasing Adorno. Adorno confesses to killing Lorenzino, a plebeian, who had kidnapped Amelia, claiming to have done so at the order of a high-ranking official. Adorno incorrectly guesses the official was Boccanegra and is about to attack him when Amelia rushes in and stops him (Aria: Nell'ora soave – "At that sweet hour which invites ecstasy / I was walking alone by the sea"). She describes her abduction and escape. Before she is able to identify her kidnapper, fighting breaks out once more. Boccanegra establishes order and has Adorno arrested for the night (Aria: Plebe! Patrizi! Popolo! – "Plebeians! Patricians! Inheritors / Of a fierce history"). He orders the crowd to make peace and they praise his mercy. Realizing that Paolo is responsible for the kidnapping, Boccanegra places him in charge of finding the culprit. He then makes everyone, including Paolo, utter a curse on the kidnapper.

Act 2

(Act 3 in the 1857 original)

The Doge's apartments

[1881 revised version: There are some small adjustments in this act which include expanding Paolo's opening aria, thus giving him greater stature in the work: Me stesso ho maledetto! / "I have cursed myself", the wording of which was originally: O doge ingrato ... ch'io rinunci Amelia e i suoi tesori? / "O ungrateful Doge! ... Must I give up Amelia and her charms".] [31]

Paolo has imprisoned Fiesco. Determined to kill Boccanegra, Paolo pours a slow-acting poison into the Doge's water, and then tries to convince Fiesco to murder Boccanegra in return for his freedom. Fiesco refuses. Paolo next suggests to Adorno that Amelia is the Doge's mistress, hoping Adorno will murder Boccanegra in a jealous rage. Adorno is furious (Aria: Sento avvampar nell'anima – "I feel a furious jealousy / Setting my soul on fire"). Amelia enters the Doge's apartments, seeming to confirm Adorno's suspicions, and he angrily accuses her of infidelity. She claims only to love him, but cannot reveal her secret – that Boccanegra is her father – because Adorno's family were killed by the Doge. Adorno hides as Boccanegra is heard approaching. Amelia confesses to Boccanegra that she is in love with his enemy Adorno. Boccanegra is angry, but tells his daughter that if the young nobleman changes his ways, he may pardon him. He asks Amelia to leave, and then takes a drink of the poisoned water, which Paolo has placed on the table. He falls asleep. Adorno emerges and is about to kill Boccanegra, when Amelia returns in time to stop him. Boccanegra wakes and reveals to Adorno that Amelia is his daughter. Adorno begs for Amelia's forgiveness (Trio: Perdon, Amelia ... Indomito – "Forgive me, Amelia ... A wild, / Jealous love was mine"). Noises of fighting are heard – Paolo has stirred up a revolution against the Doge. Adorno promises to fight for Boccanegra, who vows that Adorno shall marry Amelia if he can crush the rebels.

Act 3

(Act 4 in the 1857 original)

[1857 original version: Act 4 opened with a double male voice chorus, and a confused dialogue involving references to details in the original play.] [32]

Inside the Doge's palace

The uprising against the Doge has been put down. Paolo has been condemned to death for fighting with the rebels against the Doge. Fiesco is released from prison by the Doge's men. On his way to the scaffold, Paolo boasts to Fiesco that he has poisoned Boccanegra. Fiesco is deeply shocked. He confronts Boccanegra, who is now dying from Paolo's poison. Boccanegra recognizes his old enemy and tells Fiesco that Amelia is his granddaughter. Fiesco feels great remorse and tells Boccanegra about the poison. Adorno and Amelia, newly married, arrive to find the two men reconciled. Boccanegra tells Amelia that Fiesco is her grandfather and, before he dies, names Adorno his successor. The crowd mourns the death of the Doge.


Budden makes a useful observation on the musical qualities of the original version: "all the devices that we associate with the term bel canto are sparingly used" [33] and he suggests that, at mid-century, "this amounted to a denial of Italy's national birthright" [33] for an audience brought up on the conventions employed by Vincenzo Bellini or Gaetano Donizetti. In his "Introduction to the 1881 Score", James Hepokoski emphasizes that Budden's assertion appeared to be true, since the 1857 original "resounded with clear echoes of [Verdi's] earlier style" and that he employed the known techniques but, at the same time, moved away from them, so that:

the basic musical conventions of the Risorgimento (separate numbers with breaks for applause, multi-movement arias and duets with repetitive codas, cadenzas and repeated cabalettas, static concertato ensembles, and so on) were indeed present, if usually modified [so that] the musical discourse was characteristically terse, angular, and muscular. [34]

Budden goes on to suggest the implications of this move away from the standard forms, albeit that "[it] was a daring, innovative work. Without altering the letter of the contemporary Italian forms, it certainly altered their spirit ... Quite unheard of was a protagonist without a single extended lyrical solo to himself. [16] Additionally, Budden suggests that musically "the richness and subtlety of the musical language acquired over twenty-four years suffice to fill out Simon's personality further. [16]

The 1881 revisions then, which, in most cases, did not require changes in the libretto, were made to the music by Verdi. As David Kimbell demonstrates with a few examples, areas such as which illustrate more refined use of the orchestra include the first scene of the Prologue: "the dialogue, instead of being punctuated by the customary figurations of accompanied recitative, is set against a gravely flowing orchestral theme." [35]


1857 original version

(Boccanegra, Maria, Adorno, Fiesco)
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [36]
1975 Sesto Bruscantini,
Josella Ligi,
André Turp,
Gwynne Howell
John Matheson,
BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Singers
(Recording of a concert performance in the Golders Green Hippodrome on 2 August; broadcast on 1 January 1976)
CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORCV 302
1999Vitorio Vitelli,
Annalisa Raspagliosi,
Warren Mok,
Francesco Ellero d'Artegna
Renato Palumbo,
Orchestra Internationale d'Italia
(Recording made at performances at the Festival della Valle d'Itria, Martina Franca, 4, 6, 8 August)
CD: Dynamic,

1881 revised version

Amelia (Maria),
Gabriele Adorno,
Jacobo Fiesco)
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [36]
1939 Lawrence Tibbett,
Elisabeth Rethberg,
Giovanni Martinelli,
Ezio Pinza
Ettore Panizza,
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus
CD: Myto Historical
Cat: 981H006
1951 Paolo Silveri,
Antonietta Stella,
Carlo Bergonzi,
Mario Petri
Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,
Coro e Orchestra di Roma della RAI
CD: Warner Fonit
Cat: 5050467 7906-2
1957 Tito Gobbi,
Victoria de los Ángeles,
Giuseppe Campora,
Boris Christoff
Gabriele Santini,
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma orchestra and chorus
Cat: CDMB 63513
(Digitally remastered, 1990)
1958 Tito Gobbi,
Leyla Gencer,
Mirto Picchi,
Ferruccio Mazzoli
Mario Rossi,
Teatro di San Carlo Orchestra and Chorus, Naples
(Video recording of a performance at Naples and audio recording of its soundtrack, 26 December)
VHS Video, PAL only: Hardy Classics
Cat: HCA 60002-2
CD: Hardy Classics
HCA 6002-2
1973 Piero Cappuccilli,
Katia Ricciarelli,
Plácido Domingo,
Ruggero Raimondi
Gianandrea Gavazzeni,
RCA Italiana Opera Chorus and Orchestra
CD: RCA Records
Cat: RD 70729
1976 Piero Cappuccilli,
Katia Ricciarelli,
Giorgio Merighi,
Nicolai Ghiaurov
Oliviero De Fabritiis,
NHK Symphony Orchestra and Union of Japan Professional Choruses, Tokyo
(Recording of a performance in Tokyo, October)
DVD: Premiere Opera Ltd
Video Artists International
Cat: VAI 4484
1977 Piero Cappuccilli,
Mirella Freni,
José Carreras,
Nicolai Ghiaurov
Claudio Abbado,
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
Cat: 449 752–2
1984 Sherrill Milnes,
Anna Tomowa-Sintow,
Vasile Moldoveanu,
Paul Plishka
James Levine,
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
(Video recording of a performance at the Met, 29 December)
DVD: Pioneer Classics
Cat: PIBC 2010;
Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 073 4403
1988 Leo Nucci,
Kiri Te Kanawa,
Giacomo Aragall,
Paata Burchuladze
Georg Solti,
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
CD: Decca
Cat: 475 7011
1995 Vladimir Chernov,
Kiri Te Kanawa,
Plácido Domingo,
Robert Lloyd
James Levine,
Metropolitan Opera orchestra and chorus
DVD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 00440 073 0319
2010 Plácido Domingo,
Adrianne Pieczonka,
Marcello Giordani,
James Morris
James Levine,
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, New York
(Recording of live performance at the Metropolitan Opera, January/February)
DVD: Sony
Cat: 780664
2015 Dmitri Hvorostovsky,
Barbara Frittoli,
Stefano Secco,
Ildar Abdrazakov
Constantine Orbelian
Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir
Cat:DE 3457 [37]

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  1. Verdi to Tornielli (from La Fenice), 16 February 1855, in Budden, p. 245
  2. Osborne, C., p. 295
  3. 1 2 Budden 1984, Vol. 2, pp. 245–248
  4. Verdi to Piave, 3 September 1856, in Budden. p. 247
  5. Verdi to Piave, 3 September 1856, in Phillips-Matz, p. 352
  6. 1 2 Osborne, C., p. 296
  7. Verdi to Piave, date unknown, in Budden, p. 249
  8. 1 2 Kimbell 2001, in Holden, p 997
  9. Verdi to Ricordi, 2 May 1879, in Budden 1984, Vol. 2, p. 255
  10. Parker, p. 382
  11. 1 2 3 4 Verdi to Ricordi, 20 November 1880, in Werfel and Stefan, pp. 360–361
  12. Boito to Verdi, 8 December 1880, in Budden, pp. 256–258
  13. 1 2 Verdi to Boito, 11 December 1880, in Budden, p. 258
  14. 1 2 Phillips-Matz, p. 658
  15. Parker, in Sadie (Ed.), pp. 383–384
  16. 1 2 3 Budden, p. 329
  17. 1 2 3 Budden, pp. 253–254
  18. Verdi to C. Maffei, 29 March 1857, in Budden, p. 253
  19. 1 2 3 George Hall, "A Performance and Reception History" in Kahn (Ed.), pp. 44–45
  20. NYGO's list of performances Archived 2008-12-25 at the Wayback Machine
  21. Sarasota's "Verdi Cycle" list of performances
  22. Loewenberg, (1978) p. ?
  23. Harewood, The Earl of, '16 Verdi's 'Simon Boccanegra',' Opera on the Gramophone 16, December 1965, p. 9.
  24. 1 2 List of singers taken from Budden, p. 244
  25. Budden, p. 267
  26. Rodolfo Celletti, "A Historical Perspective", in Kahn, (ed.) p. 11
  27. Kahn, (Ed.), pp. 87 and 179 illustrate the difference
  28. Budden, p. 294: He explains that "operatic architecture, if not common sense, demands a cabaletta at this point.
  29. Kahn, pp. 187–197
  30. Budden, pp. 303–309, for details of the original
  31. Kahn, pp. 1133 and 199
  32. Kahn, p. 201; also see Budden, p. 322
  33. 1 2 Budden, p. 254
  34. James Hepokoski, in Kahn, p. 15
  35. Kimbell 2001, in Holden, p. 1007
  36. 1 2 Recordings of Simon Boccanegra from
  37. Judith Malafronte (July 2015). "Verdi: Simon Boccanegra". Opera News . 80 (1).

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