Opera with a prologue and three acts (five pictures)

Composer Giuseppe Verdi · Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave (1857), new version by Arrigo Boito (1881)
In Italian with English and German surtitles

Monday, 06. October 2014
07:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Duration est. 3 hours · Prolog + 1. Akt (est. 07:00 pm - 08:30 pm ) · Interval (est. 08:30 pm - 09:00 pm ) · 2. + 3. Akt (est. 09:00 pm - 10:00 pm )

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Musikalische Leitung
Bertrand de Billy
Inszenierung und Bühne
Dmitri Tcherniakov
Elena Zaytseva
Gleb Filshtinsky
Sören Eckhoff

Simon Boccanegra
Dimitri Platanias
Amelia Grimaldi
Serena Farnocchia
Jacopo Fiesco
Dmitry Belosselskiy
Gabriele Adorno
Wookyung Kim
Paolo Albiani
Markus Eiche
Peter Lobert
Matthew Grills
Dienerin der Amelia
Anna Rajah
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Although it should no longer be important in the City of Genoa – the Doge is elected by the people – entrenched party rivalry between the Patricians and the Plebeians is still strong. But the candidacy of Simon Boccanegra seems to offer the opportunity of reconciliation. He is elected Doge. And yet: he too becomes enmeshed in the tangle of family tragedies and power plays.

This is Verdi's most brittle work; its colours are dark, its feelings gloomy, its scenes – both public and private – brutal – yet it is full of the drive to love and freedom. Over 20 years were to pass following the unsuccessful first performance in 1857 before Verdi carried out a fundamental revision and reshaped the work completely with his new librettist Arrigo Boito. But in comparison with his Trilogia populare, the work suffered for a long time from the reputation of being inaccessible. Wrongly! Verdi said: "The piece is sombre, because it must be sombre, but it is enthralling!“


A power-struggle between the patricians and the plebeians divides the city. Fiesco, a leading patrician, has locked away his daughter Maria. He is scandalized by her affair with a plebeian, the pirate Simon Boccanegra. During the night the plebeians sense that the time is right for them to seize control and proclaim their candidate as the ruler of the City.


Paolo tries to persuade Pietro to change the candidate at the last moment. In place of Lorenzino, he proposes nominating the pirate Simon Boccanegra as the sole plebeian candidate. For this reason Paolo has brought Boccanegra to the city, and is trying to convince him to accept his proposal. Becoming the city’s ruler would open up great opportunities for Boccanegra, including the chance to exact revenge on Fiesco and, in overcoming the latter’s iron will, obtain Maria. Boccanegra accepts. The plebeians support him as their candidate.

The unfortunate Maria, who has spent many months locked up in her father’s house, dies the same night. Frantic with grief and guilt, Fiesco leaves his house and meets Boccanegra outside. He mounts a furious attack on Boccanegra, insulting and accusing him. Obstinate to the end, Fiesco says nothing about Maria’s death. Boccanegra attempts to justify himself, but Fiesco remains uncompromising in his sense of grievance and hatred. He offers Boccanegra just on chance of pardon: the small daughter of Boccanegra and Maria should he returned to the Fiesco family. But Boccanegra has failed to keep the child of his unhappy love safe; little Maria has disappeared and he has nothing to say to Fiesco. The two men part as enemies.

In a rage Boccanegra tries to enter the house in order to see Maria. Fiesco stays to observe him. Seeing Maria’s lifeless body, Boccanegra is overwhelmed by utter despair and feelings of guilt over what has happened. At this moment he learns that he has been elected as ruler of the city.

Act I

Twenty-five years have passed. The conflict between the patricians and the plebeians continues. Boccanegra remains ruler of the city, with Paolo as his closest aide. Boccanegra has tried and failed to find his lost daughter. Fiesco has been banished, thrown into prison and is thought to have died long ago. However, he has recently returned to the city in the guise of a priest by the name of Andrea and is plotting a conspiracy against Boccanegra. He lives with the Grimaldi family, whose heirs Boccanegra has also banished. The Grimaldis have adopted a young girl – Amelia – to safeguard the
family fortune.

Paolo is investigating the conspiracy and visits the Grimaldis regularly. He has fallen in love with Amelia, and tells her of the time he spent with Boccanegra in his younger days. Amelia is captivated by Boccanegra’s story and imagines herself to be his lost daughter.

Scene 1 The Grimaldi household

Amelia meets her lover Gabriele Adorno. The priest Andrea (Fiesco) persuades this young patrician into a new political conspiracy against Boccanegra. Amelia reveals to Adorno that she is aware of his secret activities and that she fears for his life. The unexpected news that Boccanegra himself is coming to the Grimaldi household fills Amelia with panic. In fear, she awaits his arrival. Paolo brings Boccanegra into the house.

Boccanegra announces to Amelia that he is granting the Grimaldi heirs a pardon and that he is ready to bring them back from exile. In return, he asks Amelia to agree to marry Paolo. The young woman rejects this proposal and confesses to Boccanegra that she has nothing in common with the Grimaldis. Boccanegra listens to the story of her life, which unexpectedly matches the story of his daughter whom he lost twenty-five years earlier. In a stateof excitement, he decides to announce to Amelia that she is his lost daughter.

Amelia is confused yet happy. Following his encounter with Amelia, Boccanegra is perplexed and resolves to say nothing about these events until all the circumstances have been clarified. He refuses to aid Paolo’s marital aspirations and starts to suspect him of some conspiracy against himself. Infuriated, Paolo decides upon a desperate measure: to abduct Amelia and lock her up in Lorenzino’s house.

Scene 2 The meeting hall of the city council

Boccanegra speaks to the senators. Paolo contradicts his every word.

Sudden noises outside in the street attract the senator’s attention. A furious mob is trying to finish off the patrician Gabriele Adorno, who has killed the plebeian Lorenzino in a fight; the plebeians demand Adorno’s punishment. Boccanegra takes the risk of inviting all disputing parties into the meeting hall in order to get to the bottom of what has happened, and the mob drags in Adorno and the priest Andrea.

Adorno explains what has happened: Lorenzino abducted Amelia on behalf of some highly placed person. Adorno believes this person to be Boccanegra. The hot-headed young man tries to attack Boccanegra, but Amelia suddenly appears and places herself between them in order to protect Simon. Boccanegra asks Amelia to explain what happened to her: she was indeed kidnapped and held in Lorenzino’s house, but managed to escape by threatening her captors by mentioning her close relationship with Boccanegra. Naturally, Amelia suspects Paolo but she dare not name him. Paolo suspects that he is about to be unmasked. The angry mob attempts to determine who the guilty party is, and as a result a brawl breaks out between the opposing factions which Boccanegra tries to prevent.

Knowing that Adorno and the priest Andrea are involved in the conspiracy against him, Boccanegra places them under arrest. He takes Amelia under his protection; convinced of Paolo’s betrayal, he gives him a public dressing-down.

Act II

Paolo is crushed by what has happened and cannot get Boccanegra’s public humiliation of him out of his mind. Obsessed with revenge, he decides to make several simultaneous moves against Boccanegra. After putting poison into a glass on Boccanegra’s desk, he secretly brings Adorno and Andrea from prison. He attempts to persuade Andrea to kill Boccanegra. The old man takes these words as a base provocation. Even the news that Paolo knows Andrea’s true identity cannot sway him. Andrea refuses and is sent back to prison.

Paolo assures Adorno that Amelia is Boccanegra’s lover. He leaves the young man alone. Adorno is consumed by furious jealousy.

Amelia enters and is startled to find Adorno. He demands an explanation from her, but Amelia is not prepared to tell him everything and simply asks that he believe that she loves only him. The unexpected arrival of Boccanegra forces Amelia, fearing a conflict, to conceal the hot-headed Adorno. The young woman begs Boccanegra to forgive Adorno, but Boccanegra is not prepared to do so as Adorno is involved in the conspiracy. It is only when Amelia Threatens to die alongside her beloved Adorno that Boccanegra, recalling his own guilt at Maria’s death twenty-five years earlier, is ready to concede.

Boccanegra asks Amelia to leave him alone for a while. Adorno emerges from his hiding place and confronts Boccanegra. Sensing that something is wrong, Amelia returns to save her father once more from the enraged Adorno. Boccanegra resolves to announce in public that Amelia is his daughter, thereby defusing the conflict. Shaken by this revelation, Adorno takes Boccanegra’s side and declares he is ready to protect him from the conspirators.

An attempted coup d’état organized by Fiesco and other patricians has failed and Boccanegra has retained power. Paolo has been arrested for siding with the conspirators.


On Boccanegra’s orders, Andrea (Fiesco) is released from prison. Andrea encounters Paolo, who has been put under arrest. Paolo has lost the day and screams furiously that Boccanegra has been poisoned and will die before him. Still consumed by his hatred for Boccanegra, Andrea hurries off to meet him in order to condemn him one last time.

When Andrea confronts Boccanegra, Simon recognizes that he is in fact Fiesco. He tells Fiesco that little Maria, the girl who disappeared, is the young woman Amelia; at this very moment she is getting married to Adorno. Fiesco is deeply shocked. Having spent an entire lifetime wallowing in senseless hatred, the old man cannot hold back his tears.

The newly weds enter to discover Boccanegra close to death. Boccanegra explains Andrea’s true identity to the couple. Before he dies, he names Adorno as his successor.

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Bertrand de Billy, geboren in Paris, begann seine Dirigentenlaufbahn nach Studien in seiner Heimatstadt als Erster Kapellmeister und stellvertretender Generalmusikdirektor im anhaltischen Theater Dessau. Danach arbeitete er in gleicher Position an der Volksoper in Wien. Es folgten vier Jahre in der Position des Chefdirigenten am Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona und acht Jahre beim Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien. Er war außerdem Erster Gastdirigent des Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchesters, des Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne sowie zuletzt 2014–2018 bei der Dresdner Philharmonie. Er dirigiert regelmäßig an internationalen Opernhäusern u. a. in Berlin, Hamburg, Wien, London, Paris und New York sowie bei den Salzburger Festspielen. (Stand: 2021)

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