Captain of the Crossbowmen: Rihards Millers
Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece "Simon Boccanegra" is staged at the Latvian National Opera for the first time. The title character of this opera becomes the doge of Genoa, defeating the aristocrat Fiesko in the vote, but they are both connected not only by the struggle for power, but also by a fateful woman. The opera "Simon Boccanegra" was written by Giuseppe Verdi as early as 1857, but only the second edition of the work, which premiered in 1881, become popular with the public and critics. In the 21st century, “Simon Boccanegra” is appearing on the stage of opera houses more and more often. The production in the Latvian National Opera is based on an original production concept by Stephen Lawless; the set and costume design is created by Leslie Travers, choreography by Lynne Hockney. Productions of this outstanding British team have triumphed on the stages of many important opera houses and festivals.
In September 1339, Genoans are preparing to elect their first doge. Goldsmith Paolo Albiani is telling his ally Pietro that he thinks the post should go to the former pirate Simon Boccanegra who is popular among the people. Boccanegra loves Maria Fiesco whose father, aristocrat Jacopo Fiesco has locked her up in his palace after finding out about her bearing an illegitimate child for Simon. Boccanegra arrives. Paolo talks him into running for the office of doge, arguing that Fiesco will not object to his daughter marrying a doge.
Pietro gathers people to talk them into supporting Boccanegra’s candidacy.
After the crowd has dispersed, a mourning Fiesco arrives from his palace. His daughter Maria has died. He swears to avenge the disgrace Boccanegra has brought onto the family. Boccanegra tries to make peace but Fiesco will acquiesce only if he has the opportunity to raise Maria and Simon’s daughter. Boccanegra admits to have entrusted his daughter Maria to an old nurse near Pisa. After the nurse’s death, the daughter has vanished.
A moment before people gather to congratulate Boccanegra as doge, he enters Fiesco’s palace to find his beloved dead.
March of 1363. Jacopo Fiesco has assumed the name of Andrea Grimaldi and is plotting to overthrow the doge along with other opponents of Simon Boccanegra. The Grimaldi family has adopted an orphan by the name of Amelia who as a child had been taken in by a monastery. No one knows that the girl is actually Maria Boccanegra, the doge’s daughter and Fiesco’s granddaughter.
Grimaldi palace garden before dawn. Amelia is waiting for her lover Gabriele Adorno. When Gabriele arrives, Amelia begs him not to get involved in political conspiracies. Pietro arrives with the message that doge wants to meet Amelia. Afraid that the doge of Genoa will force her to marry his adviser Paolo, Amelia urges Gabriele to ask her guardian Andrea for permission for a hastened wedding. Fiesco reveals to Gabriele that Amelia is not connected with blood ties to the patrician Grimaldi family but has been adopted. Gabriele does not care and secures Fiesco’s blessing to marry Maria.
Boccanegra enters. Amelia finds out that he has pardoned the members of Grimaldi family that are still in exile. The young woman reveals to the doge that she does not love Paolo who is simply a cynical, calculating person. Boccanegra has no desire to force Amelia to marry against her wishes. Inspired by this kindness, Amelia tells him that she was adopted. She shows Boccanegra the portrait of her mother she has kept as a memento, and it turns out that Boccanegra has a similar medallion. As they compare the portraits, Boccanegra realizes that Amelia is his long-sought-for daughter Maria. Having found each other at long last, they are overjoyed.
Paolo arrives to find out if Amelia has accepted his proposal for marriage. Boccanegra replies that the marriage is impossible. Starting to hate Boccanegra, Paolo hatches a plan for Pietro to abduct Amelia.
The council chambers in Genoa. The doge proposes a peace settlement with Venice. His speech is interrupted by shouting outside. Paolo realizes that his sordid plans may have failed. Doge forbids members of the council to leave the premises and commands the door to be opened. The mob breaks in wanting to take revenge on Gabriele Adorno.
Adorno admits to having killed the money-lender Lorenzino in whose house the kidnapped Amelia was found. It is revealed that the kidnapping was ordered by a prominent person. Adorno mistakenly assumes that this person might have been Boccanegra and is about to attack him. Amelia arrives and prevents the murder and tells her lover about what has just happened. Before she has a chance to recognize her kidnapper, the plebeians and patricians begin to accuse one another. Boccanegra calms them down and orders Adorno to be locked up for the night. People praise his mercy. Having realized that Paolo is behind Amelia/Maria’s kidnapping, Boccanegra turns to him giving him the task of finding the culprit, but first to put a curse on the kidnapper before God and the people.
Doge’s study in the palace. Fearing the curse, Paolo is wondering what the doge will do to him once the truth comes out. He decides that Boccanegra too must die and puts poison in a cup of water intended for the doge. Pietro brings in the arrested Fiesco and Adorno. Paolo tries to talk Fiesco into killing the sleeping Boccanegra. Fiesco refuses because he feels that such a murder would tarnish the honor of his family.
Hoping that the jealous Gabriele Adorno might try to kill the doge, Paolo tells him that Amelia is Boccanegra’s lover. Gabriele is incensed; encountering Amelia in doge’s rooms makes him even more suspicious. Gabriele accuses his beloved of infidelity. Amelia swears that her love is real yet is afraid to reveal the secret that Boccanegra is her real father for the doge at some point killed Adorno’s father. Upon hearing Boccanegra approaching, Adorno hides. Amelia confesses her love for doge’s adversary Adorno. Boccanegra is disappointed yet promises to pardon the young man if he gives up his plans to fight him politically.
Boccanegra asks Amelia to leave. He drinks the water poisoned by Paolo and falls asleep. Adorno comes out of his hiding intending to kill Boccanegra, but Amelia interferes. Boccanegra awakens and reveals to Adorno that Amelia is his daughter. Adorno asks him for forgiveness.
Shouts are heard indicating that Paolo has managed to set the mob against the doge. Adorno swears that he is going to defend Boccanegra who in his turn promises that Gabriele will be able to marry his daughter.
At doge’s palace, the residents of Genoa are celebrating Boccanegra’s victory. Paolo is condemned to death for fighting on the side of the mutineers, whereas Fiesco is freed from prison. On his way to the place of execution, Paolo meets Fiesco and admits to not only have kidnapped Amelia but also poisoned the doge. Fiesco is horrified. Boccanegra enters, deep in thought about Genoa and his favorite view of the sea. Boccanegra finally recognizes his old enemy and reveals to Fiesco that Amelia is his granddaughter. Overcome with regret, Fiesco tells Boccanegra about the poison.
Just married, Adorno and Amelia arrive. Boccanegra reveals to Amelia/Maria that Fiesco is her maternal grandfather and shortly before his death recommends Gabriele Adorno as his heir, the next doge of Genoa to the gathered crowd. People mourn the death of Simon Boccanegra.