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Rarely performed Simon Boccanegra at the Finnish National Opera

The acclaimed international production premiered in Tokyo in November 2023. It is directed by Pierre Audi, the General Director of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, with sets designed by one of the world’s most famous sculptors, Anish Kapoor.

The international co-production of Simon Boccanegra was first performed at the New National Theatre in Tokyo in November 2023. The premiere at Finnish National Opera on 22 March doubles as its European premiere. In addition to the Finnish National Opera and Tokyo, the co-production has involved Madrid’s Teatro Real, which is its next destination after Helsinki.

The star-studded cast of the opera includes director Pierre Audi and set designer Anish Kapoor, who is one of today’s most internationally acclaimed sculptors. His monumental and vibrantly colourful works are typically hybrids of sculpture and architecture. Kapoor has only occasionally designed sets for operas: his first opera set design was seen at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2003. In 2008, he created the set design for Pelléas and Mélisande at the La Monnaie Theatre in Brussels, Wagner’s Parsifal at the Dutch National Opera in 2012, and Tristan and Isolde at the English National Opera in 2016. The costumes for Simon Boccanegra are by Wojciech Dziedzic, the lighting design is by Jean Kalman, and the performances are conducted by Pietro Rizzo.

Verdi’s sombre music is interpreted by leading soloists. Soprano Joyce El-Khoury interprets the role of Amelia Grimaldi, Sebastian Catana is seen as Paolo Albiani, and the title role is sung by Vladimir Stoyanov. All of them are making their debut at the Finnish National Opera. Riccardo Zanellato sings the role of Jacopo Fiesco, with Koit Soasepp as Pietro, Mihails Čulpajevs as Gabriele Adorno, Mika Pohjonen as the Captain, and Iris Candelaria from the Young Singers’ Programme as the Maid.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, which had its world premiere in Venice in 1857, is often described as sombre and portentious. Verdi made two versions of his Boccanegra. The first, in 1857, found little popularity, prompting Verdi to create a new version with his trusted librettist Arrigo Boito. This version, which premiered in 1881, is seen at the Finnish National Opera. As is typical for Verdi, it is set in the intersection of the private and public, but political intrigue plays a more visible role than in most of Verdi’s operas.

Simon Boccanegra tells the story of a man who ascends to power against his will. As we follow his journey, it’s not the details that we need to understand but rather how power alienates him from his own emotions and life. Boccanegra’s solitude resonates in every note of the music, from the opening to the final curtain,” director Pierre Audi says.

Giuseppe Verdi: Simon Boccanegra
Premiere 22 March 2024 at 7 p.m.
Other performances from 2 to 26 April