Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
A spectacularly sung family reunion
|Lyric Opera of Chicago presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents Simon Boccanegra. Simon loves Maria. But he’s poor and she’s rich. Her dad Jacopo hates Simon. People encourage him to run for Doge (chief magistrate). Simon’s not interested in power until they convince him that the job will help him get the girl. He goes for it. Meanwhile, Maria dies after giving birth to their daughter. Fast forward, twenty-five years. Amelia loves Adorno. Jacopo supports the coupling. But the Doge rejects the match. Is it because Adorno is a rebel? Or is Simon in love with Amelia? The past revisits the present when identities are revealed. Simon Boccanegra is a spectacularly sung family reunion.
This opera boasts a powerhouse of talent. All four principles take their turn wowing the crowd with their vocal strength. Ferruccio Furlanetto (Jacopo) grieves for his daughter with his show-stopping, heart-breaking aria “Il lacerrato spirito.” Already in the prologue, Furlanetto sets the precedence for an evening of enchantment. He doesn’t mislead! Wearing simple but elegant gowns (Designer Peter J. Hall), Krassimira Stoyanova (Amelia) more than holds her own with the boys club. The lovely Stoyanova captivates with her exquisite soprano delivery. In passionate duets with Frank Lopardo (Adorno) and Thomas Hampson (Simon), Stoyanova s effectively hits two very different tender-loving exchanges. A jealous Lopardo provides a fiery delivery. And in the lead, Hampson continually transforms from young lover to tyrannical leader to gentle father to wise retiree. Hampson is outstanding in his robust interpretation. Under the always-animated baton of Sir Andrew Davis, the fab four receive continual applause breaks during the show and a standing ovation at the end.
Designer Michael Yeargan cleverly uses a pillar-based set that transitions quickly at multiple scene breaks. The oversized columns have an Italian majesty. Lighting Designer Duane Schuler effectively adds in the mood and locale (interior or exterior). In particular, the discovery of Maria’s demise is shadows-of-death perfection. The look provides the right statuesque battleground for a love and hate clash to fill the stage with emotion.
With the Lyric’s tradition of excellence, I always anticipate being swept away by a world class singer. The delightful surprise is when all four principles exceed all expectations. Simon Boccanegra boasts the Fantastic Four… this production is most definitely super!
Simon Boccanegra continues through December 10th at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive (map). Tickets are $54-$259, and are available by phone (312-332-2244) or online through the Lyric website. More information at LyricOpera.org. (Running time: 2 hours 55 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Dan Rest
behind the scenes
3Words: Arriving after the curtain and receiving red carpet Lyric hospitality, my cousin Jennie describes it with ‘powerful, hypnotic, beautiful.’