Vera Stepanovskaya

Simon Boccanegra in St.Petersburg: after the premier in short

After the premiere: Valery Gergiev, Andrea De Rosa, Ferruccio Furlanetto. Photo© Opera+

Mariinsky Theater writes a new page in its history by staging Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra for the first time in St. Petersburg. The driving force of the premiere was Valery Gergiev by all aspects: as an artistic lead of the Company and a musical director at the pit conducting brilliantly. The guest star of the premiere was the legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. The production of Andrea de Rosa (direction and sets) came from Venice (La Fenice) and Genova (Carlo Felice) theaters; it gave some authentic Mediterranean flow. The sea, the sky , the clouds and the air of the Ligurian shores was presented at the background, visually giving Verdi’s dark masterpiece some natural beauty and working beautifully. In the whole the production was true to the spirit of Verdi and in a modern way very simple. The dark construction on the stage with the gothic windows added to the atmosphere.

The composer is no stranger at Mariinsky Theater: the first La Forza del Destino was written for this house. And since then Verdi works are always present at the Mariinsky. But Simon Boccanegra was performed only twice in 2008 in concert version. The part of Fiesco was sung then by the great Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. This time he appeared in the full production giving it his great experience and wisdom of performing this role in many famous stages with the great directors and conductors. His first performance of Fiesco was in 1981 at the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine, then he sang it with Claudio Abbado in the famous Giorgio Strehler production, at the Vienna State Opera he performed the role more than 50 times. After St. Petersburg he sings it at the Met, at the Liceo in Barcelona, at the Berlin and Vienna State Opera.

V.Sulimsky and F.Furlanetto
Photo© V.Baranovsky/MT

At the premiere Furlanetto appeared in a great and fresh voice easily overcoming the orchestra, reaching every corner of the big New Mariinsky and very secure from the top to the bottom. The role of Fiesco fits the singer greatly, he lives the character through his hatred to Boccanegra (Vladislav Sulimsky), his kindness to Amelia Grimaldi (Viktoria Yastrebova) and Gabriele Adorno (Alexander Mikhailov), his nobility when he refuses to kill his enemy in his sleep and final repentance when he discovered the true value of Boccanegra.

“In my opinion the greatness of this role lies in the finale, where Fiesco forgives Boccanegra and asks for Boccanegra’s own forgiveness. And he is given that forgiveness that allows him to live on. Following lengthy torment he becomes kinder and sees forgiveness as a necessity. … Psychologically and vocally it is rather difficult to reconcile in this role the constant thirst for revenge and a noble nature. But any integral character earns my respect,” – tells Furlanetto in the Mariinsky booklet’s interview.

Photo© V.Baranovsky/MT

The rest of the cast was Mariinsky regulars; many debuted in the parts, giving impressive and decent performances. The main character was sung by Vladislav Sulimsky and he really owned the role, so one could hardly believe that he prepared it on short notice. He possesses beautiful voice and gave his hero the important nobility. The other baritone role – the evil force of the opera – Paolo Albiani - was sung by Roman Burdenko impressively. The love interest in the opera – Gabriele Adorno and Amelia Grimaldi has less importance for the plot. Alexander Mikhailov – a young promising tenor – received high credits from the theater, worked hard on the role and sounded decently, but he still has the way to grow vocally and as an actor. Viktoria Yastrebova looked beautiful on stage, sung with attention and care and overall she left good impression. Mariinsky chorus inhabited the score well and sounded impressive. Valery Gergiev conducted with heart and emotion, giving good attention to the singers and supporting them well, the orchestra sounded clear, warm and dramatic.

Photo© Opera+

The evening ended with the numerous bravo calls, ovations and flowers. Simon Boccanegra became true success and hope from now on will be in the house repertoire.