Vienna State Opera 8 April 2024 - Simon Boccanegra |

Simon Boccanegra

Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Austria
All photos (11)
Monday 8 April 2024

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Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Vienna, Austria
Starts at: 19:00

Verdi's masterpiece Simon Boccanegra - often undervalued - tells the story of a man whose fate is determined by love and politics. Starting off as a buccaneer he ascends to the Doge of Geneva, shaken by fate, intrigues and class struggles. His wife dies, he looses his child - to retrieve it only shortly before his death in peace. With this opera, Verdi presents on of his most mature, touching and yet uncommon oeuvres: To be enjoyed at Wiener Staatsoper in Peter Stein's gracefully built staging.

Populism, abuse of office, a party's welfare put before the common good, political alliances for private power plays, an easily influenced fickle crowd – the issues "Simon Boccanegra" delves into could not be more current. Giuseppe Verdi's opera, which was radically reworked some 25 years after its premiere and newly presented in 1881, now musically counts among his great, mature late works.

The corsair Simon Boccanegra is elected Doge of Genoa with the help of Paolo. He believes that, thanks to this position, the patrician Jacopo Fiesco would no longer be able to refuse him the hand of his daughter Maria – Boccanegra’s lover and mother of his daughter. However, Maria passes away and Fiesco swears revenge on Boccanegra, unless he hands over his granddaughter. Yet the girl, who was entrusted to the care of a caretaker, has disappeared.The fate of Boccanegra’s daughter is finally resolved 25 years later. She was accepted into the Grimaldi family as foundling Amelia and fell in love with the patrician Gabriele Adorno. Boccanegra asks her to marry Paolo, who has since become his chancellor. When father and daughter recognise each other, he gives up this plan, however. Paolo is furious and has Amelia kidnapped, but Adorno thwarts this. While the Senate is in session, he bursts into the assembly hall and wants to pounce on Boccanegra as the alleged instigator of this abduction. But Amelia throws herself in between them. Boccanegra, recognizing in Paolo the person responsible for the abduction, asks him to cast the curse on the criminal. Paolo takes revenge by poisoning Boccanegra’s nightcap. Adorno, too, seeks to kill the doge as Paolo claims that the doge is Amelia’s lover. Yet again, Amelia throws herself in between and reveals herself to Adorno as Boccanegra’s daughter. When the patricians approach to overthrow the doge, Gabriele sides with Simon. The rebellion is crushed, Paolo is sentenced to death, but his poison is already taking effect. Dying, Boccanegra reconciliates with Fiesco, who learns that Amelia is his granddaughter.

Premiere of this production: 12 March 1857, La Fenice, Venice

Simon Boccanegra is an opera with a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Simón Bocanegra (1843) by Antonio García Gutiérrez, whose play El trovador had been the basis for Verdi's 1853 opera, Il trovatore.

Venue Info

Vienna State Opera - Vienna
Location   Opernring 2

The Vienna State Opera is one of the leading opera houses in the world. Its past is steeped in tradition. Its present is alive with richly varied performances and events. Each season, the schedule features 350 performances of more than 60 different operas and ballets. The members of the Vienna Philharmonic are recruited from the Vienna State Opera's orchestra. The building is also the home of the Vienna State Ballet, and it hosts the annual Vienna Opera Ball during the carnival season.

The 1,709-seat Renaissance Revival venue was the first major building on the Vienna Ring Road. It was built from 1861 to 1869 following plans by August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll, and designs by Josef Hlávka. The opera house was inaugurated as the "Vienna Court Opera" (Wiener Hofoper) in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It became known by its current name after the establishment of the First Austrian Republic in 1921. The Vienna State Opera is the successor of the Vienna Court Opera, the original construction site chosen and paid for by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1861.

The opera house was the first major building on the Vienna Ringstrasse commissioned by the Viennese "city expansion fund". Work commenced on the house in 1861 and was completed in 1869, following plans drawn up by architects August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll. It was built in the Neo-Renaissance style by the renowned Czech architect and contractor Josef Hlávka.

Gustav Mahler was one of the many conductors who have worked in Vienna. During his tenure (1897–1907), Mahler cultivated a new generation of singers, such as Anna Bahr-Mildenburg and Selma Kurz, and recruited a stage designer who replaced the lavish historical stage decors with sparse stage scenery corresponding to modernistic, Jugendstil tastes. Mahler also introduced the practice of dimming the lighting in the theatre during performances, which was initially not appreciated by the audience. However, Mahler's reforms were maintained by his successors.

Herbert von Karajan introduced the practice of performing operas exclusively in their original language instead of being translated into German. He also strengthened the ensemble and regular principal singers and introduced the policy of predominantly engaging guest singers. He began a collaboration with La Scala in Milan, in which both productions and orchestrations were shared. This created an opening for the prominent members of the Viennese ensemble to appear in Milan, especially to perform works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Strauss.

Ballet companies merge

At the beginning of the 2005–2006 season, the ballet companies of the Staatsoper and the Vienna Volksoper were merged under the direction of Gyula Harangozó.

From the 2010–2011 season a new company was formed called Wiener Staatsballet, Vienna State Ballet, under the direction of former Paris Opera Ballet principal dancer Manuel Legris. Legris eliminated Harangozós's policy of presenting nothing but traditional narrative ballets with guest artists in the leading roles, concentrated on establishing a strong in-house ensemble and restored evenings of mixed bill programs, featuring works of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, and many contemporary choreographers, as well as a reduced schedule of the classic ballets.

Opera ball

For many decades, the opera house has been the venue of the Vienna Opera Ball. It is an internationally renowned event, which takes place annually on the last Thursday in Fasching. Those in attendance often include visitors from around the world, especially prominent names in business and politics. The opera ball receives media coverage from a range of outlets.

Important Info
Type: Opera
City: Vienna, Austria
Starts at: 19:00
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