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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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Simon Boccanegra in Madrid/22.07, my impressions&photos

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Simon Boccanegra in Madrid
Or “Back is good but front is better” ;)
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It was the first evening with the all star cast. Placido Domingo as Simon Boccanegra, Angela Gheorghiu as Amelia Grimaldi, Ferruccio Furlanetto as Fiesco and Marcelo Giordani as Gabriele Adorno. It was a great event for opera lovers in Madrid as Domingo returned in his home town. And he’s much loved here. He’s treated like a hero. This was also Angela’s debut in Teatro Real.
It was my first time in Teatro Real. And the first time I see Boccanegra live on stage. Teatro Real is beautiful, both inside and outside. The location is excellent, right in front of the Royal Palace and a beautiful park. Inside you feel like being in a museum. The red room, the green room, a restaurant, a large terrace facing the Palace, marble staircases.
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The production was signe by Giancarlo del Monaco. It was not “heavy” as the Met one. Some marble columns, stairs, a statue in the Prologue, a big chair for Il Dodge, a table in the second act and that’s about all. The columns remain on stage throughout the opera. Only the background changes. There is a huge screen and some waves are projected on it. The effect is great when seen from the parterre. The costumes come in great contrast with the whiteness of the sets. Purple robes for the chorus, red robe for Boccanegra, black outfit for Fiesco, a dark blue dress for Amelia in the first act. Only Amelia’s dress changes entirely in the next acts. In the second one she has a white.. sort of night robe. In the third act the wedding dress is also white, with some golden embroidery on the edges.
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Impressive orchestra and chorus. Mr Jesus Lopez Cobos handled everything perfectly. The chorus part at the end of act 1 when they say “sia maledetto, sia maledetto” was so full of wrath that for a moment I felt sorry for Paolo.
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There were a lot of nervousness during the first part of the opera. Maybe it was the pressure of the evening. I couldn’t hear the voices too well. Two possible reasons. Either I was too close to the orchestra and the sound was not very well balanced or it was the place on stage they were singing from. Angela’s voice during her aria in the first act seemed like coming from far, far away. Soft, round, touching, but not powerful enough to overpass the orchestra. The director placed her on top of the stairs, towards the back of the stage. For the duet with Domingo (the father/daughter reunion) they both came in front. So things started to change. The voices already warmed up and they were closer to the audience. It was a very touching moment. The way they looked to each other, the acting and not to mention the voices. They looked exactly like father and daughter. It was one of those moments when you feel your blood pressure raising.
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This is the third time I see Ferruccio Furlanetto live on stage, after the Barber and La Fille at ROH. I can’t get enough of his voice. My ears say this is the perfect bas voice, from the first to the last sound.
And last but not least, Mr Giordani. Maybe this was not one of his best evenings. He sounded more like a brave warrior than a lover. His has a big, strong, Met-like voice that sometimes didn’t match the other voices singing at the same time.
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There were some other moments during the opera worth mentioning. The trio Boccanegra/Amelia/Adorno in the second act, the duet Boccanegra/Fiesco, then Fiesco’s aria before the duet with Simon, the entire scene in the Council Room at the end of act 1 (and here Domingo put everything in those words… E vo gridando: pace! E vo gridando: amore) and the ending of the opera, the death of Simon Boccanegra. This one was twice impressive. I told you before that Domingo is a great actor. He was sooo into this dying scene. First he blesses Adorno and Amelia and falls down for the first time, close to the edge of the pit. The other two help him get up, he tells everybody that Adorno is the next Dodge, he goes up the stairs and here he takes the big fall (and a worried “ahhhhh” was heard from the audience). He dies in the arms of Amelia. The people waited for the orchestra to finish and then there was an explosion of applauses. Bravos for everybody. During the performance they were not too generous with applauses. But now I see why. They waited for the right moment. Which came at the end. The press said there were 16 minutes of applauses. I think there were more. And very well deserved.
All my respect for everybody. Thanks for shearing your feelings and voices with us. You made me so happy.
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And as ending, it was great to meet again some of my friends. You know who you are. See you all again soon! Maybe we should all think of performance date of Adriana in London and set up a meeting. With all the risks involved. As you saw at the backstage door, the more, the merrier :)
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And now enjoy the photos.
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From left to right: Marcelo Giordani, Placido Domingo, Angela Gheorghiu and Ferruccio Furlanetto
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13 comments:

  1. Fantástico comentario y fotos. Todos estuvieron muy bien y el público lo supo agradecer. Genial!.

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  2. It looks wonderful Irina. I wish I had been there. However, I do worry about all of these cancelations. Is Angela ill? I am concerned that the opera houses of the world will not take the risk to book her and then what will we do. I hope to get tickets for Adriana Lecouverer at ROH, but I will try for the first night only as I cannot take the risk of an expensive trip only to be disappointed. I speak this with love and I hope Angela will not lose too many fans over all of these cancelations. If she is ill "Get Well Soon". Best wishes, Carole.

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  3. @ Carole, if we all want to go to the premiere, then ROH is way too small :))
    @ Fedora - gracias. Fue una noche espectacular!!!

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  4. I share Carole's concern about Angela's numerous recent cancellations, and have also wondered if she is ill. I am one of her greatest fans but the situation is becoming unacceptable, and I also fear there is a danger that opera houses may decide they cannot take the risk of booking her. I have become so nervous of her numerous cancellations that when I booked for the recent Traviata at the ROH I was only prepared to buy a ticket for the first night - and even then with some apprehension. If Angela is ill, then of course we all wish her well - but the recent trend has become totally unsatisfactory, and very damaging to Angela's reputation.

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  5. Angela should probably only agree to one performance for each run to avoid disappointing people.

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  6. Irina - sorry, in my previous comments I also meant to thank you for your wonderful photos.

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  7. @Brian - I'm happy that you like them. It's not like actually being there, but at least you get an idea :)

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  8. heyhey, Irina, look at this:
    http://www.angelagheorghiu.com/gallery/personal/1261/

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  9. @edda - I just happened to be there:D

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  10. Beautiful pictures!
    I also agree with the other commenters here - Angela's cancellations are becoming worrisome. I'm worried that she is physically ill or something else is going on (maybe extreme attacks of stage fright - that could also explain some of the memory lapses).
    On another note - Irina, I love this blog! It updates me on everything I want to know (not just Angela, but your CD releases category and blog list are very handy too). I was just wondering if you know anything about the new Angela CD that should be coming out soon - what is going to be on it and when will it be released?

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  11. @Laura - reasons for cancellations - unknown :)
    According to what she says, the CD is not finished yet. For the moment EMI will release the two DVDs in October. I'll keep you posted.

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  12. Salut Irina, I was there myself on 22nd of July: I especially bought tickewts for the first performace since I was afraid she will cancel...and, unfortunatelly, I was right :((( I tried to see her, last year, in Traviata at Munchen...but I arrived two shows too late and I saw the horrible Elaine Alvarez instead..
    And yes, your seat was the problem, not their voices: I sat at the second bacony and I had no problem hearing everybody...I got shocked by how powerful voices Domingo and Furlanetto have! Angela has a medium size voice with superb and suprinsing powerful high notes!
    As a negative comment: I noticed some mannerisms (like those sighs at the end of some long phrases) which are quite annoying. Plus her determination to finish the last one which I do think it is not a very nice attitude! Sometimes she seemed a bit out of performance or maybe I didn't see her very well (in the Council scene for instance).
    But apart of these things, it was really a wonder to see and hear her!
    Domingo was superb. Furlanetto was fantastically amazing and the Simon/Fiesco duet from the last act was, in my opinion, the best scene of the opera!!!
    Giordani was, as expected, weak and nonconvincing actor, evem if his voice sounded good from time to time: his problem is he pushes too much and there is no room left for refinement.

    Excelent orchestra and choir!!!

    Did not get too much out of setting which, in my opinion, was totally wrong given the opera, the time and place of the action. It was very Roman like setting, better for La clemenza di Tito.

    I felt the stage direction was too static: the choir didn't move too much, the curse scene was cheap and lacked tension due to the abundant white lightning. Same esthetically wrong used lighting in Fiesco's aria (fantastically sung by Furlanetto).

    But overall (even if I personally prefer darker setings for Simon B, like ones in London and New York), I enjoyed it tremendously!!!

    Calin

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  13. @Calin - multumesc pentru comentariu
    I thought it was the seat. The same happens at ROH when you stay too close to the stage. For the second night of SB I head a seat at the third level towards the middle of the venue, and the ound wsa perfect.
    I'm glad you had a great evening!

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