Today's opera in my ALL class was Simon Boccanegra, an opera Verdi wrote at the very center of his life, age 44 [he lived to 87]. The picture above is Placido Domingo in the title role and I would have preferred to see a DVD of this Royal Opera House performance. Instead they showed a Met 1987 performance with Domingo as the young lover, Adorno - a lesser role. I have heard this opera many times on Met Saturday broadcasts and never paid much attention to it because it lacks the beautiful arias of earlier Verdi and it is very political - which is mainly meaningless simply in Italian on the radio. But on DVD it becomes clear why this was a success [the second time around, actually] -- it has a political message of peace that becme an extremely grand finale.
The Italian peninsula [and Spain also] was for many years so torn with warring families, with the ideas of honor and vengeance, that peace was very hard won. This was a major theme of Verdi's in many of his operas. Oddly, in this opera the tenor has a small role, while Boccanegra and two other important characters are baritones -- it gives a ponderance and foreboding to the entire opera -- there is no lightness, not even in the love duet. No wonder I've never listened to it carefully before. I'm so glad I'm taking this class that shows these DVDs and in a way forces me to watch operas I've ignored. I've now seen Simon Boccanegra and may never see it again but am happy to have it in my memory and to understand it at last.
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