With Simon Boccanegra, a remarkably intricate and monumental musical drama about family and politics, Giuseppe Verdi whisks the audience back to 14th-century Geneva. The story of the Genovan doge, a work condemning ill-fated political battles and urging amity within the Italian nation has been conquering the world's opera stages since 1881.The opera is constructed from motifs that Verdi developed even earlier. It includes the themes of the lost child, generational conflict, friendship and betrayal. "Such intimate and delicately crafted music is not only impossible to appraise, one cannot even begin to comprehend it,” gushed one contemporary critic. The road to widespread popularity, however, was a long one. The first version of the libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave, who had previously penned the text for Macbeth, Rigoletto and La traviata. Simon Boccanegra failed almost as badly as La traviata. "I thought I had written something of merit, but apparently I was mistaken,” stated Verdi in a letter following the 1857 Venice première, himself feeling that something was missing from the opera.
Some 20 years passed, before a new librettist wrote a new version with new nuances. Once again collaborating on a long-term basis with the composer, Arrigo Boito (the librettist for Otello and Falstaff), would revise the opera and propel it to sweeping success at its La Scala première in 1881. Although the scoring and tone of the opera remained dark, Verdi did sneak in a little light here and there. In the meantime, he moved away from the use of closed numbers in order to create a modern musical drama comprising more uniform musical material.
Concert performance in Italian, with Hungarian surtitles.
Presented by: Hungarian State Opera
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Refreshments – Without the Queue
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