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Composer Serge Noskov Thursday, 27 Feb 2020, 12:01:26
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Main » 2011 » June » 9 » Simon Baccanegra.
Simon Baccanegra.

Simon Baccanegra.

Simon Boccanegra was not my favourite opera of Verdi’s and I had not intended to see it in the foreseeable future.  But something happened, which changed my mind -  at one of London’s summer parties I have met Gleb Filshtinsky, a lighting designer.  He and his friend Dmitri Tcherniakov were in the final days of completing the new production of the Simon Boccanegra for ENO and the premiere was only in a couple of days.  So I got curious and decided to have a go.  Just to see the lighting design,  specifically.  

I am not going to list all the makers  and shakers of that particular production.  I am sure you will be able to find all the names on the internet.  And also I am not going into any details of the actual performances on that day.  Everybody has their own taste and ideas, so I leave it at that.  What I wanted to say – was the following...

During the performance (it was actually dress rehearsal) I had two surprises.   The first one– the music sounded like it was written by a young composer,  just beginning to write operas.  It was very simple, very melodic and totally within the rules of composition and harmony of that time.  Surprise indeed, considering that it was Verdi’s  21st opera, after such giants as Nabucco (1842), Macbeth (1847), Rigoletto (1851) and La Traviata (1853).  The ENO orchestra, under batton of Edward Gardner, sounded very good. A bit too loud at times, even covering the voices... but good.  I can understand Edward – Verdi’s music begs to be performed loudly and proudly J Or maybe it was just my impression after listening too many modern operas with inept orchestration and chaotic music...

The second surprise was – the transfer of the action into modern day (well, not very modern-modern, but definitely into the end of 20th century).  Not the transfer itself, but the courage of the Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov to actually do it.  The music is very simple, the action is very ancient (pirates and stuff).  All of it does not sit very well with modern surroundings.  In fact, the music and the set design on the stage clashed.  And lighting helped to make that clash more evident.  I was disappointed.  If it was to be set in a modern day, it should have been at least with some shocking details, like machine guns, mobile phones... or may be some vampires... etc.  There was nothing of the sort.  The set was very scarce and simple, almost like in a prison.  What was shocking – it was the forced marriage of the set and the music.  The performance went on regardless...

It was wrong.  But, at the same time – it was right.  Justified.  May be there should have been some more details to make it more justified, or, at least more evident for being right... Hm-m-m...

On my way home I was still thinking about it.  The music was still ringing in my ears and the images were unforgettable.  The lighting certainly made it look different.  What was wrong?!?!?!

And then it came to me.  It was not an opera about 19th,  or even 20th century Italy.  It was about Russia around  1990 – 1995.  After Perestroika.  Oligarkhs were dividing the country’s assets between them.  All you need to do – is to change the names, put some Russian names instead of Italian and that’s it.  All drops into proper places.  And the stage set – very soviet like, austere and boring...The music still clashes with the set, but at least I understand now why.

The talent of Dmitri Tcherniakov spotted the potential of the "Simon Boccanegra” and used  it to convey his own ideas... to have his say... and the set and lighting design of Gleb Filshtinsky helped a lot.  Congratulations!  Well done!

But my-my!!! The old Verdi, the grey haired genius... in the middle of 19th century writing an opera about Russia in 130 years time... Well, actually not only about Russia.  Similar situations were, or could have been in some other places, in some other times... So now I am thinking about Simon Boccanegra as an opera-archetype, as a symbol of a situation, which could happen anywhere, anytime.  I can easily imagine this opera set on some distant planet, at any time in the future, or indeed in the past... with some weird characters’ names and unbelievable stage decorations... And the music could be still Verdi’s... that old man, that grey haired genius...

Views: 505 | Added by: Compozittorre | Tags: sergei noskov, opera rewiev, verdi, eno, simon boccanegra, italian opera, london coliseum | Rating: 0.0/0
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