Simon Boccanegra

Simon Boccanegra

[sahy-muhn boh-kuh-ney-gruh, -neg-ruh]
Simon Boccanegra is an opera with a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Simón Bocanegra by Antonio García Gutiérrez. It was first performed at Teatro La Fenice, Venice on March 12, 1857. The revised version, with text changes by Arrigo Boito, was first performed at La Scala, Milan on March 24, 1881.

Simon Boccanegra is part of the standard operatic repertoire and there are many recordings of it.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast
March 12, 1857
(Conductor: - )
Revised version
Premiere Cast
March 24, 1881
(Conductor: Franco Faccio)
Simon Boccanegra, a corsair,
later the first Doge of Genoa
baritone Leone Giraldoni Victor Maurel
Maria Boccanegra, his daughter,
known as Amelia Grimaldi
soprano Luigia Bendazzi Anna d'Angeri
Jacopo Fiesco, a Genoese nobleman,
known as Andrea
bass Giuseppe Echeverria Edouard de Reszke
Gabriele Adorno, a Genoese gentleman tenor Carlo Negrini Francesco Tamagno
Paolo Albiani, a goldsmith and the
Doge’s favourite courtier
bass Giacomo Vercellini Federico Salvati
Pietro, a Genoese popular leader
and courtier
baritone Andrea Bellini Giovanni Bianco
Captain of the Crossbowmen tenor Angelo Fiorentini
Amelia’s maid mezzo-soprano Fernanda Capelli
Soldiers, sailors, people, senators, the Doge’s court, prisoners - Chorus


Time: The middle of the 14th century.
Place: In and around Genoa.


Paolo persuades Pietro to support the nomination of Simon Boccanegra for doge of Genoa. Boccanegra arrives and agrees to stand, thinking that Fiesco would then allow him to wed his daughter, who is being held prisoner in her father's gloomy palace just to prevent such a union and by whom Simon has already a daughter, Maria. Pietro rallies support for Boccanegra. Fiesco enters, stricken with grief over his daughter's death ("Il lacerato spirito"). He does not tell Boccanegra. Boccanegra accosts Fiesco and begs forgiveness. Fiesco promises clemency only if Boccanegra lets Fiesco have his granddaughter. Boccanegra explains he cannot for the child has vanished. Boccanegra finds his beloved's body as the people hail Boccanegra as the new doge.

Act 1

Scene 1: Twenty-five years later

The doge has exiled many of his political opponents and confiscated their property. In the Grimaldi castle, Fiesco, to avoid discovery, is using the name Andrea Grimaldi, plotting with Boccanegra's enemies to overthrow him. Unknowingly, years earlier, the Grimaldis had adopted Boccanegra's child and Fiesco's granddaughter after discovering the orphan in a convent. They called her Amelia, hoping that she would be the heir to their family's fortune, their sons having been exiled. Amelia awaits her lover, Gabriele Adorno (Aria:"Come in quest'ora bruna"). He arrives, and she warns him of the dangers of political conspiracy. Word arrives that the doge is coming. Amelia, fearing that a forced marriage to Paolo is to be arranged, urges Adorno to ask her father for permission to marry. Fiesco agrees and reveals that Amelia is actually a penniless foundling. When Adorno says that he does not care, Fiesco blesses the marriage. Boccanegra enters. He pardons Amelia's exiled brothers, but she refuses to marry Paolo. When she tells Boccanegra that she was adopted, he realizes that she is his long-lost daughter. Finally reunited, they are overcome with joy. When Paolo enters, Boccanegra denies permission for the arranged marriage. Furious, Paolo decides to kidnap Amelia.

Scene 2: The senate is in session

The doge is interrupted by the sounds of a mob demanding Boccanegra's head. He orders the doors opened, and the crowd bursts in, chasing Adorno. Adorno confesses to killing Lorenzino for the attempted kidnapping of Amelia, ordered by an unknown high ranking official. Adorno guesses it is must be Boccanegra and is about to attack him when Amelia rushes in and stops the fight (Aria: "Nell'ora soave"). Boccanegra has Adorno arrested for the night (Aria: "Plebe! Patrizi! Popolo!"). Discerning that Paolo is the actual man responsible, he makes everyone, including Paolo, utter a curse on the real kidnapper.

Act 2

Paolo and Fiesco discuss plans to murder Boccanegra, but Fiesco refuses. Paolo next tells Adorno that Amelia is the doge's mistress, hoping Adorno will murder Boccanegra. Just before Amelia enters, Adorno's anger and jealousy prompts an angry outburst (Aria: "Sento avvampar nell'anima"). Amelia enters, and Adorno accuses her of infidelity. She claims only to love Adorno, but does not explain that Boccanegra is her father for Adorno's family was killed by the doge. Adorno hides as Boccanegra enters. Amelia vows to Boccanegra that she would die for Adorno. Boccanegra agrees to pardon him. He drinks from a poisoned glass of wine and falls asleep. Adorno tries to kill him, but Amelia stops him. Boccanegra wakes and reveals that Amelia is his daughter. Adorno begs for forgiveness (Aria: "Perdon, Amelia... Indomito") and promises to fight for the doge.

Act 3

Paolo is condemned to death for leading the uprising against the doge. Fiesco is released from prison. Paolo tells Fiesco that he has poisoned Boccanegra. Fiesco confronts Boccanegra, who is now dying. Boccanegra recognizes his old enemy, but is happy to tell him that Amelia is his granddaughter. Fiesco feels great remorse and tells Boccanegra about the poison. Adorno and Amelia, newly married, find her father and grandfather have reconciled. Boccanegra asks that Adorno be named his successor, and after the doge dies, Fiesco proclaims it so.

Selected recordings

Year Cast
(Boccanegra, Maria, Adorno, Fiesco)
Opera House and Orchestra
1958 Tito Gobbi,
Victoria de los Ángeles,
Giuseppe Campora,
Boris Christoff
Gabriele Santini,
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma orchestra and chorus
Audio CD: EMI
Cat: CDMB 63513
(Digitally remastered, 1990)
1973 Piero Cappuccilli,
Katia Ricciarelli,
Plácido Domingo,
Ruggero Raimondi
Gianandrea Gavazzeni,
RCA Italiana Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Audio CD: RCA
1977 Piero Cappuccilli,
Mirella Freni,
José Carreras,
Nicolai Ghiaurov
Claduio Abbado,
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
Audio CD: Deutsche Grammophon
1995 Vladimir Chernov,
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,
Plácido Domingo,
Robert Lloyd
James Levine,
Metropolitan Opera orchestra and chorus
DVD: Deutsche Grammophon
Cat: 00440 073 0319


External links

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