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Salsi reappears in the title role of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and displays much more attention to detail, plus his slightly bluffbaritone sits well with the character, a man of the people thrust into an impossible position. It is an effective portrayal and one can sense Boccanegra’s increasing anger and desperation with political events, balanced against the revelations in his private life. Otherwise Andreas Kriegenburg’s contemporary production leftme cold – it’s large-scale and makes the stage of Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus an awful distance to traverse when you’re in a rush to hit your mark. A simple setting of enormous fabric drops doesn’t help, though they do at least evoke sails in a nod to Boccanegra’s maritime setting. It’s a very good cast. Alongside Salsi is Marina Rebeka as Amelia, and I doubt she could be bettered in the role today. Her voice balances sensitivity of phrase against some thrust, but she is costumed unflatteringly and doesn’t seem to have been guided into a ‘view’ of her role – her emotional Act I duet with Boccanegra goes for little. Charles Castronovo’s Adorno is ardent and perhaps generic, but it is that sort of a role. René Pape’s Fiesco is more interesting, his bass smooth, but once again he is directed rather too stagily and doesn’t seem realistic. Valery Gergiev conducts with suitable gravity and attention to detail and control in the more violent aspects of the score, and the chorus is particularly fine, despite having much annoying stage business to contend with, such as faffing around with mobile phones.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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