Monday 21 July 2008

Simon Boccanegra on DVD: Almost saved by Claudio Abbado and Karita Mattila

Simon Boccanegra. Teatro Comunale Firenze (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino) 2002. Production: Peter Stein. Cast: Carlo Guelfi (Simon Boccanegra), Julian Kostantinov (Fiesco), Karita Matila (Amelia), Gabriele Adorno (Vincenzo La Scola), Lucio Gallo (Paolo Albiani). Conductor: Claudio Abbado. Further information here.

Peter Stein´s production of Simon Boccanegra was recorded at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2002 and is a coproducton with the Salzburg Easter Festival.

In brief: This is a production memorable for the presence of Karita Mattila and Claudio Abbado.

In other words: Peter Stein´s staging is rather unspectacular. Simple, dark and aesthetic, yes. But interpretatively I have no idea what his messages are. We look at projections of pillars, houses and mosaics in the background of the mainly blue sets, in which the only contrast seem to be the predominantly red period outfits worn by the singers. Any individual stage direction or concept does simply not get through here.

Except for Karita Mattila, the singers are very anonymous and not to be remembered (or mentioned any further, at least not by me), and only with the entrance of Amelia does the stage seem to lighten up.
A pity really for Claudio Abbado, whose superbly conducted Simon Boccanegra need fear comparison from no-one in history as already documented on his bench-mark audio recording.
Unfortuntately, Karita Mattila and Claudio Abbado cannot entirely save this production.

Karita Mattila with "Come in quest´ora bruna" :
The bottom line:
Carlo Guelfi: 2-3
Julio Konstantinov: 2-3
Vincenzo La Scala: 2-3
Karita Mattila: 5

Peter Stein´s production: 2-3
Claudio Abbado: 5

Overall impression: 3

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