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Verdi, Simon Boccanegra: Soloists,Orquesta Oviedo Filarmonía. Coro de la Ópera de Oviedo.Conductor: Daniele Callegari. Teatro Campoamor de Oviedo. 28. 1.2010. (JMI)

Production Opera de Oviedo from Opera Santa Fe.

Director: Stefano Vizioli.
Sets: Robert Innes Hopkins.
Costumes: Anna Maria Heinrich.
Lighting: Franco Marri.


Simon Boccanegra: Marco di Felice.
Amelia Grimaldi: Ángeles Blancas.
Jacopo Fiesco: Vitalij Kowaljow.
Gabriele Adorno: Giuseppe Gipali.
Paolo Albiani: Paolo Pecchioli.
Pietro: Víctor García Sierra.
A Captain: José Tablada.
Amelia’s Servant: Vanesa del Riego.

After the brilliant performance of Ariodante last December, Oviedo finished its opera season with a greyish kind of tone from a Simon Boccanegra that left much to be desired.

Coming from the Santa Fe Festival with stage direction by Stefano Vizioli, discovering what the interest in this production is supposed to be, was a mystery to me. It was premiered in the summer of 2004 and has never again been revived -a fact which, now that I have seen it, seems distinctly less than a surprising. This is really a very poor production, unworthy of an opera house as important as Oviedo.

The staging consists of side walls, with one added at the back which opens to give a view of the sea, and also serves as an entrance for the Council Scene. A revolving section in the middle of the stage is where the supposed action takes place. The costumes are as poor as the sets and the lighting is also unexceptional. With all this disappointment, only really exceptional stage direction could catch the interest of the audience, but Stefano Vizioli did not achieve that either. The chorus and extras were static and the major roles were all directed with  similar lack of stimulus. It is hard to imagine that the fight at the beginning of the last act could have been any worse. In short, this was an unacceptably poor production altogether.

Daniele Callegari was a safe and effective conductor and of the three aspects that form an opera - scenic, musical and vocal – it was the music which came out best in this performance. I don't know if the Orchestra has improved much during the last year, under the baton of its musical director Friedrich Haider, or if the hand of Callegari deserves the credit, but I found the orchestra better than ever before and it was one the best performances I have attended from the always reliable Maestro Callegari.

Some people may think that the cancellation of Carlos Álvarez as the protagonist of the opera must have had serious consequences for the development of the performance, but this was not the case, since the new Simon Boccanegra was the very acceptable Marco Di Felice, a good baritone, although his voice has not quite the amplitude that the Doge needs. His interpretation of the role was fairly routine, but that was also partly due to the director.

The presence of the Ángeles Blancas as Amelia Grimaldi was a casting error to my way of thinking. This very interesting singer, of a rare intensity on stage, cannot cope with the vocal demands of this role. The top end of her voice can become quite unstable and the high notes are as yet too tight, resulting in shouting. She has not, and may never have I suspect, the powerful dramatic voice of her mother Angeles Gulan and I think it is not a good idea to emulate her in the Verdi repertoire. Ms Blanca will be singing Abigail in Zurich, which is in my opinion a mistake, since the role is out of her natural fach and might even damage her future career.


Ukrainian bass Vitalij Kowaljow was an effective Jacopo Fiesco. He repeated the good impression that he made a couple of years ago as Banco in Macbeth. The voice is not outstanding in timbre or amplitude, but he is nonetheless well suited to the demands of the character. The Albanian tenor Giuseppe Gipali has a pleasant and uniform voice along the tessitura, but was somewhat lacking in power, which made him inaudible in ensembles. His biggest problem lies in his huge lack of expressiveness as an interpreter as he is a kind of ‘old time tenor’, which means he enters the stage, stands still, produces notes and then leaves. There is a fifth important character in this opera, which is none other than the evil Paolo Albiani. On this occasion, his interpreter, Paolo Pecchioli, was too poor vocally to be acceptable.


There was a full house, as is usual in Oviedo but only tepid applause after Gabriele Adorno’s aria and at the final bows there was little  more than politeness expressed to the artists with no cheers at all for any of them. The audience was more courteous than cold in their final reaction.

José  M  Irurzun

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