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Giuseppe Verdi

Simon Boccanegra

Giuseppe Verdi - Simon Boccanegra 
Alexandru Agache Mark Beesley Alan Opie Roberto Scandiuzzi Michael Sylvester Kiri Te Kanawa Conductor: Georg Solti Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra

Except for a few years during the 19304 when Lawrence Tibbett starred in the role with a dramatic sense all his 0wn, Simon Boccanegra has never captured the imagination and affection of a large public—either here or abroad. It was a comparative failure in its early years, and the composer was not only disappointed but also puzzled. By 1881 he had established a fine relationship with the composer-librettist Arrigo Boito, who had collaborated with brilliant skill and taste on Otello, and Verdi turned to him to revise a pretty murky and static libretto. Boito did his best (which, in this case, was not too good); Verdi did far better. The revised version—the only one performed nowadays and the one described below— includes some of Verdi's most eloquent pages. Even so, the opera remains much more admired by the critics than loved by the public. Every once in a while an opera company will revive it for the benefit of a star baritone and the opportunity to exhibit some rich scenery. The critics praise it; the public stays away; the baritone stars in something else; and the scenery goes back to the warehouse for another few years.




Simon Boccanegra, Doge of Genoa

Amelia Grimaldi, his daughter

Jacopo Fiesco, her grandfather

Gabriele Adorno, a young patrician

Paolo, a politician




Time: 1339 to 1363
Place: Genoa

First performance at Venice, March 12, 1857


Opera in prologue and three acts by Giuseppe

Verdi witn libretto in Italian by Francesco

Maria Piave, based on a play by Antonio Garcia Gutierrez


Simon BoccanegraBaritone. A plebeian buccaneer, later doge, and father of Maria (known as Amelia Grimaldi). Amelia's mother was the daughter of the patrician Fiesco, who disapproved of her relationship with Boccanegra. She died and Fiesco blamed Boccanegra and would forgive him only if he handed over their child. However Boccanegra had left his little daughter in the care of an old lady. He returned from one of his trips to find the lady dead and the child gone. Meantime, Boccanegra has been elected doge, mainly due to the efforts of Paolo Albiani.

Twenty-five years on, Boccanegra visits the Grimaldi palace and sees the Count's daughter, Amelia. Through her mother's portrait, which she wears in her locket, Boccanegra recognizes Amelia as his long-lost daughter. She is being cared for by her guardian ‘Andrea’ (who is Fiesco living under another name) and she is betrothed to Gabriele Adorno (for whose father's death Boccanegra was held responsible). Paolo, who lusts after her, kidnaps her but she escapes. Boccanegra swears vengeance on the abductor and curses him (not knowing who it is). Boccanegra drinks water into which Paolo has put poison. Finding him drowsy and at his mercy, Gabriele is prevented from killing Boccanegra by Amelia, who then reveals that he is her father. As Boccanegra succumbs to the poison, he is reconciled with Fiesco, who now has his granddaughter back and the young couple are married. As he dies, Boccanegra names Gabriele as his successor, the new doge. Aria: Figlia! a tal nome io palpito (‘Daughter! … I tremble at that name’). Created (1857 vers.) by Leone Giraldoni; (1881 vers.) by Victor Maurel. 

Simon Boccanegra, Act I: "Figlia! A tal nome palpito" · Giuseppe Patane · Hungarian State Opera Chorus · Hungarian State Opera Orchestra · Lajos Miller

Amelia GrimaldiSoprano. Illegitimate daughter of Boccanegra and the late Maria (who was the daughter of Fiesco). After her mother's death she was found wandering and was adopted by Count Grimaldi and brought up as his daughter. She is cared for by her guardian Andrea (who is Fiesco under an assumed name—he does not know Amelia's true identity). Years later she and Boccanegra (now elected Doge) meet. She tells the story of her adoption and shows him the portrait of her real mother in her locket. Boccanegra recognizes his Maria and realizes this is his long‐lost daughter. She is to be married to the nobleman Gabriele Adorno. Boccanegra is poisoned by Paolo Albiani, whose hopes of marrying Amelia were thwarted. Knowing he will die, Boccanegra tells Fiesco the truth and the two men are reconciled. Amelia and Gabriele are married and the dying Boccanegra declares Gabriele his successor. Aria: Come in quest’ ora bruna… (‘In this dark hour… See how the stars and ocean’); duet (with Adorno): Vieni a mirar la cerual marina tremolante (‘Come and look at the shimmering azure sea’). Created (1857) by Luigia Bendazzi; (1881) by Anna d’Angeri.

Verdi, Simon Boccanegra - Aria de Amelia - Come in quest'ora bruna (Harteros)

Jacopo Fiesco: Bass. Father of Maria, who has an affair with the plebeian Boccanegra, of whom the aristocratic Fiesco disapproves. Maria dies and Fiesco can only forgive Boccanegra if he hands over the child Maria had, but the little girl has disappeared. Fiesco is further angered when Boccanegra is elected doge of Genoa. Unknown to everyone involved, Boccanegra's daughter has been adopted and brought up as Amelia Grimaldi. At the Grimaldi palace, 25 years later, she and Boccanegra meet and he recognizes her as his long‐lost daughter. Andrea, her guardian, is Fiesco under an assumed name (not knowing who Amelia is). When Boccanegra is poisoned and dying, he tells Fiesco that this is his granddaughter and the two men are finally reconciled before Boccanegra dies. Aria: Il lacerato spirito (‘The tormented spirit’). Created (1857) by Giuseppe Echeverria; (1881) by Édouard de Reszke.

Verdi: Simon Boccanegra: Il lacerato spirito (József Gregor)

Gabriele AdornoTenor. A Genoese nobleman (patrician), in love with Amelia Grimaldi, not knowing she is the daughter of the Doge, Simon Boccanegra, who was responsible for the death of Gabriele's father, a death Gabriele has sworn to avenge. Amelia and Gabriele persuade her guardian to bless their union immediately. Gabriele suspects Boccanegra of lusting after Amelia and determines to kill him, but is stopped by Amelia and the truth about their father‐daughter relationship is revealed. The Doge promises they can marry if Gabriele can bring about a peaceful settlement between the warring plebeians and patricians. Before he dies, poisoned by Paolo, Gabriele and Amelia are married and Boccanegra names Adorno as his successor. Duet (with Amelia): Angiol che dall'empireo (‘Angel who from heaven’). Created (1857 vers.) by Carlo Negrini; (1881 vers.) by Francesco Tamagno.

Aria de Gabriele Adorno el día del debut de José Bros en la ópera Simon Boccanegra - Teatre del Liceu

Paolo AlbianiBaritone. A goldsmith, a plebeian who helps Boccanegra to be elected Doge. He wants to marry Amelia Grimaldi (who is Boccanegra's daughter, although neither she nor Boccanegra realize it at first). She is in love with the patrician Gabriele Adorno. Paolo kidnaps her, but she escapes. Boccanegra curses the villain who attacked Amelia, and is determined to find and punish him. Paolo resolves to kill Boccanegra and puts poison in his drinking water, which the Doge drinks. When it is revealed to them all that Amelia is Boccanegra's daughter, the Doge gives Amelia and Gabriele his blessing. Paolo is sentenced to death, but has the satisfaction of knowing that Boccanegra will also die. Created (1857 vers.) by Giacomo Vercellini; (1881 vers.) by Federico Salvati.

Croatian National Opera Split - Simon Boccanegra  - Paolo,
II act Ozren Bilušić



The rather long prologue takes place in a public square of Genoa of the early fourteenth or fifteenth century. (The libretto says early fifteenth century, but the historical election of Simon Boccanegra as first Doge of Genoa took place in 1339.) Genoa was, at the time,a republic,and the opera begins with the professional dealings of a couple of politicians named Paolo and Pietro. They represent the democratic, or Ghibelline, faction, and they discuss who shall be elected the new Doge—that is, the head of the state. Quickly they agree that it shall be Simon Boccanegra. He is, at the moment, a popular and highly respectable freebooter, who has rid the sea around Genoa of non-European pirates. Simon himself enters at this moment, claims he does not choose to run, but is quickly persuaded to change his mind by Paolo. For Simon wishes to marry Maria, with whom he has had a clandestine love affair—and Maria is the daughter of the nobleman Jacopo Fiesco. Should Simon be elected Doge, he would have the гапк of a prince, and Fiesco could not deny his daughter to him.

When Simon has consented, the two conspirators summon a group of voters around them. Their polibcai arguments are rather personal, but nonetheless effective. They argue against Fiesco—who would be Simon's rival of the Guelph party—by claiming that he keeps a beautiful woman mysteriously locked up as a prisoner in his palace. This persuades the populace that Simon will make the best Doge, and they depart, their minds made up. Now, Fiesco, however much a nobleman and a Guelph, is not a villain. The woman he is supposed to be keeping locked up is really his daughter, Maria, the beloved of Simon, and she has just died. In the best-known aria of the opera (Il lacerato spirito), Fiesco speaks of his sorrow as an off-stage chorus sings a miserere.

Simon, who is the father of Maria's child, begs for the friendship and forgiveness of Fiesco, even offering him his life, by baring his chest. But the patrician Fiesco refuses to be an assassin, and he promises forgiveness only if Simon will turn over to him his grandchild. This, Simon explains, he cannot do. For some time ago the woman to whom tihe child had been entrusted was found dead, and the child had disappeared. And so Fiesco - without telling Simon that Maria has just died—coldly turns on bis heel and leaves his political rivals Simon, however, enters the Fiesco palace, and a minute later comes out again. He has come across the dead body of his beloved Maria!

And at that moment the populace comes into the square to nail their newly elected Doge. As the prologue ends, the crowd cries Viva SimonI to the brokenhearted man.


Scene 1  Twenty-four years have now passed. Simon Boccanegra is still Doge of Genoa, and his long-lost daughter lives with his old enemy, Fiesco, her grandfather. However, neither the grandfather, the father, nor the girl berself is aware of her true identity, and she goes under the name of Amelia. When the act begins, she is awaiting her lover, Gabriele Adomo, a young nobleman of the party opposed to Simon. She looks out over the sea at dawn, and she sings a lovely aria as she waits for Gabriele. At its end his voice is heard off-stage, singing a love song in the distance. Ecstatically they embrace. But there is a shadow between them, for Amelia does not approve of Gabriele's plotting with her guardian. As thеу speak together, they are interrupted by Pietro, who announces the imminent arrival of the Doge himself. Amelia hastily explains that the Doge seeks her hand for one of bis favorites, and she begs Gabriele to arrange for their immediate marriage. Before the Doge enters, old Fiesco (who now, to hide his identity, goes under Ле name of Andrea) tells Gabriele that Amelia

comes of humble stock. This makes no difference to the ardent lover, and so her guardian blesses the union in a duet that strikes a fine religious tone.

Now the Doge enters. The purpose of bis visit is to secure Amelia's hand for Paolo, the man who bad helped him become Doge and who is now a chief counselor. But in the course of their long and touching duet be learns of her history, and it suddenly becomes obvious to both of them that she is really his long-lost daughter. Their secret must, fot the time being, be kept. The Doge decides that Paolo must not have Amelia as she hates him and loves someone dsc. But as yet Simon does not know that the accepted lover is his bitter enemy, Gabriele Adomo.

Scene 2 A number of things have happened between the scenes. Firsts Paolo, Simon's villainous counselor, has heard that Simon no longer backs him in his suit for Amelia's band. Second, he has made an unsuccessful effort to have his henchmen kidnap (he girl. And third, the attempt has been faded by Amelia's lover, Gabriele, who believes that Simon instigated the plot.

As the act opens, Simon is presiding over a meeting of his council, giving sage advice about maintaining peace. Suddenly there is an uproar outside. The people are angered ovec the attempt to abduct Amelia, and they mistakenly shout, "Death to the Dogel" Simon takes the whole situation in at once. With a scornful majesty be rises over everything, and turns them to his side. But Gabriele rushes to attack Simon with a dagger. Amelia throws herself between the men, and she indicates clearly, without mentioning his name, that Paolo was the villain behind the abduction. A wonderful sextet, with chorus, develops, as everyone expresses his own emotions in connection with this rather complicated situation. At its end Simon turns to Paolo. He knows that Paolo is the unadmitted guilty one, and he tells him that—as guardian of the peopled honor — he must curse the man who committed the crime.

Horrified, Paolo is forced to curse himself: Sia mmaledetto. And as the act closes, the whole assemblage repeats the curse in whispers: Sia maledetto!


At thе beginning of Act II, Paolo swears vengeance on Doge Simon and prepares a cup of poison for him. Then he orders the two prisoners, Fiesco and Gabriele, to be brought before him. First be attempts to persuade Fiesco to murder Simon in his sleep. But the old aristocrat again refuses to stoop to assassination. Next, Paolo turns to the young lover, Gabriele. He tells him that Simon has wicked designs on his beloved Amelia and urges him to murder the Doge. Left alone, Gabriele gives vent to his rage - and then, in a lovely melody, begs heaven to restore Amelia to his breast.

Amelia now enters the chamber of the palace where this scene takes place, and in a fine duet begs him to respect the Doge and her own innocent love for him. The entrance of the Doge interrupts their interview, and the young man quickly leaves. In the duet that follows, Simon learns that his daughters beloved is his enemy, Gabriele. Greatly moved, he promises pardon if Gabriele himself will repent.

And now, the tired Boccanegra sits wearily down, thinks of bis troubles—and drinks the poisoned cup that Paolo had left for him. He falls asleep, and Gabrieie rushes forth to slay him. But Amelia throws herself between them just in time, and it is only now that Gabriele learns that Simon is Amelia's father —and that he is greathearted enough to pardon the enemy in his power. Outside, the angry shouts of Simon's enemies are heard. He urges Gabriele to join his friends on the other side, but the young man cries that he will never again fight Simon. Side by side, they join the battle.


The Doge and young Gabriele have been victorious in their battle against the Guelph aristocrats, and Paolo, who had turned traitor to Simon, is brought into the ducal palace, condemned to be hanged. Before he is led off, he tells old Fiesco that he has poisoned the Doge; and then, to make his own

end doubly bitter, he hears, off-stage, the wedding chorus that joins Amelia and Gabriele. Simon—now sick unto death—is led in, preceded by trampeters. The two old enemies, Fiesca and Boccanegra, are left alone. And as Fiesco learns that Amelia is the long-lost daughter of his own Maria, the two are finally united in friendship.

Amelia and her new husband, Gabriele, then come into the chamber with many others. Only now does she learn that Fiesco, her guardian for many years, is really her grandfather. Everyone is deeply moved by Simon's evident growing weakness. A splendid quartet rises, and then, just before be dies, Simon appoints Gabriele as the next Doge of Genoa. 

Simone Boccanigra

Simone Boccanegra (Ligurian: Scimon Boccaneigra, Italian: Simone Boccanegra; died 1363) was the first Doge of Genoa. He became doge in 1339, but was ousted from power six years later. He regained the position in 1356, retaining it until his death in 1363.

His story was popularized by Antonio García Gutiérrez's 1843 play Simón Bocanegra and Giuseppe Verdi's 1857 opera Simon Boccanegra. Note the spellings.

Boccanegra was elected doge for life on September 24, 1339, as the candidate of the "popular" Ghibelline faction. Boccanegra was opposed by the aristocratic Guelf faction, representing the old mercantile patriciate, which his first actions excluded from public life. With the old patriciate excluded from power, a new class of mercantile houses arose: Adorno, Guarco, Fregoso, and Montaldo.


During Boccanegra's dogate, Genoese control was extended the length of both the French and Italian Rivieras, with the exception of the Grimaldi holdings in Monaco and Ventimiglia, and Genoese galleys went to the aid of Alfonso XI of Castile in his struggles against the Saracens.

There were constant conspiracies and attempts against Boccanegra's life from the outset. (The first conspirator's head rolled on December 20, 1339.) This led to the establishment of a bodyguard of 103 mounted soldiers. For Boccanegra's security these were drawn from Pisa, the inveterate enemy of Genoa, where, however, Simone's brother Niccolò was "captain of the people", their mother having been a Pisan aristocrat.

Resignation and death
Boccanegra was forced to resign his office at a public meeting he had called, December 23, 1344. He was succeeded by Giovanni I di Murta, who died in early January 1350 and then by Giovanni II Valente, who ruled as chief magistrate, until Boccanegra regained power in 1356.


Boccanegra died in 1363, possibly having been poisoned by agents of his enemies.

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