VERDI Simon Boccanegra / Hampson, Calleja, Zanetti


Simon Boccanegra
Thomas Hampson · Kristine Opolais
Joseph Calleja · Carlo Colombara
Luca Pisaroni · Wiener Singakademie
Wiener Symphoniker
Massimo Zanetti
Int. Release 16 Sep. 2013

Conductor Massimo Zanetti opts for slow speeds, which nicely emphasise the score's elegiac mood and gathering tensions . . . [Kristine Opolais's Amelia]: there's no mistaking the intensity she brings to the closing scenes . . . [Thomas Hampson] brings his sharp intellectual focus to bear on the contrast between the private man and the public figure, and avoids sacrificing the vocal line to the text . . . The joy, love and -- at one crucial point -- anger that characterise Boccanegra's relationship with his daughter are wonderfully done, and there's a disquietingly vivid sense of physical decline towards the end, when Paolo's poison begins to take effect. Ranged against him are Carlo Colombara's arrogant, cavernous-sounding Fiesco, and Luca Pisaroni's alarming Paolo, arguably the scariest on disc. Joseph Calleja, meanwhile, is outstanding as Gabriele Adorno, fully vindicating the integrity and complexity of a role that some tenors have regarded as being insufficiently starry and have refused to sing. Recommended . . .

. . . Massimo Zanetti has full measure of Verdi's score with its wonderfully dark tinta, especially in the brooding Prologue. He whips up the crowd and orchestra to celebrate Boccanegra's election to Doge . . . Zanetti generally gets things right, highlighting orchestral detail such as the descending bassoon line against the accompanying harp figuration at the end of the same duet which is just gorgeous. The burnished strings of the Wiener Symphoniker bustle away at start of the Council Chamber scene and the braying brass when Boccanegra confronts Paolo are powerful, topped by vivid tam-tam at 'Sia maledetto'. . . Zanetti generates orchestral excitement in the riot . . . [Thomas Hampson]: his word-pointing is always dramatic, his incisive attack giving the doge plenty of bravado in facing up to the baying crowd in the Council Chamber . . . In many ways, Hampson's Boccanegra is best in the short monologues when he's alone on stage. The nuanced shading of his singing . . . and the nobility in the way he sculpts the vocal line in Act II [are very fine] . . . Gabriele Adorno is probably Joseph Calleja's best Verdi role. His warm, golden tone is unmistakable, as is his vibrato . . . His aria 'Sento avvampar' is glorious, with honeyed tones in the second half from 'Cielo pietoso, rendila'. Calleja is also sensitive in duet with both Amelia and Fiesco. Carlo Colombara . . . gives us a beautifully rendered Fiesco/Andrea Grimaldi. His [bass] . . . is lithe and supple with a good, steady bottom. 'Il lacerato spirito' is nobly sung . . . There is a fabulously sung, dangerous Paolo from Luca Pisaroni, truly embittered by Act II, backed up by the solidly sung Pietro of Igor Bakan.

. . . [those who want a version with modern singers] won't be disappointed by Thomas Hampson, as the Doge, Kristine Opolais's Amelia [-- utterly musical] . . . Carlo Colombara's booming, idiomatic Fiesco and, above all, Joseph Calleja's patrician, thrillingly sung Adorno.

Zanetti's Vienna "Boccanegra" has Thomas Hampson's idiosyncratic Doge, Carlo Colombara's mannered Fiesco, Kristine Opolais' exciting Amelia and Joseph Calleja's exceptionally fine Gabriele Adorno . . .

. . . a performance of rare eloquence, conducted with dignity and intensity by Zanetti -- clearly a force to be reckoned with. Opolais and Calleja are radiant as the young lovers . . . [Hampson and Colombara] give assured interpretations. Superb choral singing and orchestral playing.

Thomas Hampson is, as always, a searching interpreter, aware of the meaning and possible ambiguities of every phrase he sings . . . Carlo Colombara's dignified traversal of the role is praisworthy . . . Kristine Opolais proves a consistently alert and graceful Amelia . . . Recorded in concert in Vienna, the performance has a great sense of drama, and without any stage noise . . . Massimo Zanetti presides over a fine account of the score . . .

This new set has Thomas Hampson and Joseph Calleja in performances that don't just measure up to the recorded history but shine different kinds of light on the opera . . . This is the plangent, emotionally vital Italian tenor I loved when Calleja first appeared. In the title-role Hampson brings years of distinguished Verdi singing; now, in his maturity, he can emit a true Doge roar . . . [and] his Lieder-like sense of detail reveal the role in three dimensions with great concision and no excessive fussing with the vocal line.

Surely any opera-goer who admires Verdi's dark, Genoa-set masterpiece would find something to enjoy in hearing a star-studded performance such as this one, conducted by Massimo Zanetti . . . [Thomas Hampson] approaches the great role in the right tessitura . . . His ability to point text and shape intelligent phrases is everywhere in evidence . . .[Joseph Calleja is] always intelligent and musical . . . [with] his distinctively old-school voice production and phrasing, he offers some lovely, well-inflected singing [and a] warm Mediterranean quality . . . Zanetti's musical direction is clear . . . and the engineering renders the vocal and instrumental portions of the recordings uncommonly clean and sharp.

Eine Riege von Gesang-Stars ist dabei, eine Reihe charaktervoller Stimmen . . . Der maltesische Tenor Joseph Calleja hat ähnlich wie die lettische Sopranistin Kristine Opolais ein individuelles, persönlichkeitsstarkes Timbre, mit schnellem Vibrato als Markenzeichen . . . [es] sind sehr gelungene, beeindruckende Details in der Textgestaltung zu bestaunen. Der US-amerikanische Bariton Thomas Hampson ist einer der intellektuellsten Interpreten der Boccanegra-Traumrolle, zeichnet ein farbiges, nuancenreiches Porträt dieser Symbolfigur für tiefe Humanität: in Artikulation und Dynamik sehr überlegt, ohne in Manierismen zu ertrinken . . .

Massimo Zanetti leuchtet in einem sehr analytischen Dirigat mit den Wiener Symphonikern klug alle orchestralen Avanciertheiten aus . . . Thomas Hampson, Joseph Calleja, Carlo Colombara und Luca Pisaroni halten, was ihre großen Namen versprechen.

. . . [Hampson erobert] sich den Boccanegra durch differenzierte farbliche Nuancierung sowie die Expressivität der dramatischen Diktion und der verbalen Gestik. Er zeichnet die Figur mit Autorität und Intelligenz . . .[ in den lyrischen Momenten] vermag er besonders zu überzeugen, etwa im Sterben des Dogen, das er äußerst sensibel -- beinahe wie ein Lied -- gestaltet. Seine Partner sind sorgsam auf ihn zugeschnitten: der wohltönende, stets geschmackvoll singende Joseph Calleja als Gabriele Adorno und auch der imposante Paolo des Luca Pisaroni . . . Dirigent Massimo Zanetti zaubert mit den Wiener Symphonikern eine vom Zarten bis zum Auftrumpfenden in jeder Nuance überzeugende Klangwelt.

. . . [Thomas Hampson]: un portrait profondément émouvant, dont l'intensité reste toujours digne, dont le pathétique ne manque jamais de noblesse (quelle agonie poignante !) . . . Joseph Calleja en Gabriele Adorno, jeune patricien qui est ici et en tous points l'exact négatif du plébéien Boccanegra . . . Indubitablement idoine, la star du label Decca délivre une lecon de style dont la suprématie ne saurait être contestée, qui fait rapidement oublier ce que sa caractérisation a de discret, voire d'impavide . . . [les Wiener Symphoniker] trouvent superbement le chemin qui, se tenant aussi éloigné que possible et des excès de rutilance et de la sécheresse des timbres, peut offrir au chant le support qu'il leur faut. Ainsi secondés, les choristes de la Wiener Singakademie émerveillent à chacune de leur intervention. A leur tête, la direction de Massimo Zanetti, probe, énergique . . .