Simon Boccanegra, one of the best defined baritone character of Verdi's repertoire, belongs to those paternal figures which often recur in his works and end up taking a central role: from Francesco Foscari to Miller, from Rigoletto to Filippo II and Amonasro. The gloomy traits which pervade the whole opera, are due to a preponderance of deep voices. Beyond the protagonist, the character of Fiesco stands out, a sinister and vengeful figure who always acts in the dark; however, he manages to express touching features when he faces his long time rival. Another important role in this peculiar opera, is occupied by the sea, which looks like is observing the dramatic events, like a benevolent presence. The orchestral pattern itself, which introduces Amelia's entrance aria, evokes the breeze on the waves, while the protagonist gazes out of the window and looks at the sea searching for a relief while he's losing his strengths because of the poison.
Synopsis Simon Boccanegra
Genoa, fourteenth-century. Paolo and Pietro, leaders of the popular party, nominate Simon Boccanegra as their candidate to run for the office of Doge, the chief magistrate of the republic. Boccanegra hopes to be able to marry Maria, with whom he had an illegitimate child and this is the reason why she has been imprisoned by her father Fiesco. When understands Maria is dead, Fiesco demands to have his grandchild but Boccanegra says she has disappeared. He is then proclaimed Doge by the crowd. During the following 25 years, the Doge has exiled many of his opponents and confiscated their property. Fiesco is exiled too and is now called Andrea. He is the guardian of Amelia Grimaldi, the supposed daughter of a Count who has died, but she is in fact the illegitimate child of Boccanegra and Maria. Amelia’s lover is the patrician Gabriele Adorno. Gabriele and Andrea have a plan against the Doge.
Gabriele is told by Amelia that the Doge wants her to marry Paolo, but he manages to receive Andrea’s bless and he’s told about Amelia’s real identity. Amelia admits to Boccanegra her love for Gabriele and tells him about her past. When Boccanegra shows her Maria’s locket, he finds out Amelia has an identical one and he realizes she is his lost daughter and they embrace. When he’s told he can’t marry Amelia, Paolo plots with Pietro to kidnap her. During a debate in the Council Chamber, Gabriele bursts in chased by the crowd. He’s accused of killing a man who was trying to kidnap Amelia. Sure of the Doge’s involvement, Gabriele tries to stab him but Amelia intervenes, pleading for his life. Amelia describes the events to the Council and Boccanegra commands Paolo to curse the man behind the kidnapping. Paolo is therefore forced to curse himself.
Paolo sends Pietro to free Gabriele and Andrea from the prison they are locked in and pours poison into Boccanegra’s jug of water. When the two prisoners enter, Paolo tries to convince Andrea to kill the Doge, implying that the Doge has a relationship with Amelia. Amelia arrives and shortly after Boccanegra. Gabriele hides while Amelia asks the Doge to forgive her lover or she’ll die too. Boccanegra agrees on the condition that Gabriele leave the conspirators. Left alone, the Doge drinks the poisoned water and falls asleep. Gabriele, unaware of their conversation, enters and is about to stab Boccanegra when Amelia stops him. The Doge awakens and tells Gabriele that he is Amelia’s father and forgives him. A rebellious mob gathers outside, and Gabriele swears to defend the Doge, who offers him Amelia’s hand in marriage.
Genoa is celebrating Boccanegra’s victory over the rebels. Andrea is free and Paolo is going to be executed. Paolo admits that he poisoned the Doge. Boccanegra arrives, visibly ill. Andrea reveals his identity as Fiesco, and understands that Amelia is his granddaughter. He then tells the Doge that Paolo has poisoned him. Boccanegra, dying, names Gabriele his successor.