, September 2007
Everything about this video is close to perfect—and it stands as one of the finest opera DVDs that I have yet encountered. Peter Stein’s evocative, penetrating direction emphasizes the darkness of the opera, and never calls attention to itself. The production is a naturalistic one, but that doesn’t mean lacking in imaginative touches. Everything is aimed at the inner drama of the human beings who inhabit the opera, and the result is extremely moving.
Central to this is Thomas Hampson’s Boccanegra—a gigantic portrayal in every sense of the word. Hampson finds the humanity and nobility in the Doge, and conveys it through subtle facial expressions as well as body language, and just as convincingly with vocal color. He shades Verdi’s music perfectly, without ever getting fussy or mannered. When he needs to expand out and just sing a grand line, that’s what he does. His voice is in perfect condition here, and this must go down as a classic performance.
Ferruccio Furlanetto is in the same league as Fiesco. Fiesco is a complex character, and it is too easy to just portray him simplistically as the villain. Furlanetto brings out the complete human being, and in this performance we wind up empathizing with both Boccanegra and Fiesco and the dilemma in which they find themselves.
Miroslav Dvorský is the younger brother of tenor Peter Dvorský, and was a last-minute substitute. He turned out to be a superb Gabriele Adorno, with focused singing and impassioned, convincing acting.
All of the secondary roles are well cast (Boaz Daniel is a superb Paolo), and Daniele Gatti’s conducting is just right. He manages the delicate colors of this score perfectly, while never ignoring the long line. Anton Reitzenstein’s direction for television is excellent—using occasional fades and double exposures to heighten the drama. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review