Placidone's return to the opera stage last night in Milan after a two month recovery from colon cancer surgery as Verdi's Simon Boccanegra was undoubtedly heroic, admirable, and almost miraculous – especially in this annoying new age of divas and divos cancelling performances on a whim without giving any more explanation than “illness”. But this premiere of Boccanegra didn’t yield the dream reception (as some are erroneously spinning without even having been present) that the Spanish tenor could have wanted, nor a Boccanegra who Verdi himself could have imagined affecting the role. And it certainly didn’t rise to the unbridled success that greeted it in Berlin last fall for Domingo’s role premiere.
Last night at la Scala for the opening night of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra with Domingo in the title role, the unruly loggione made sure that the drama on the stage would be shadowed by the drama in the stands, made even more effective by a curse hurled at the stage by one of the angriest ticketholders.
Despite an overwhelmingly positive curtain call before the first (and only) intermission, thirty minutes of interval was to be the final moment of tranquility: As Barenboim returned to the podium, he was jeered with endless bouts of booing, all of which he glared down. First came calls of "vergogna", then came a clear shout of "vaff*****", but after an old man shouted "basta", enough, Barenboim finally faced the orchestra and continued the opera.
At the end of the opera and Domingo's heart wrenching death, the tenor (as baritone) was initially met with clusters of booing, although it was effectively eviscerated by the overwhelming cheers. And after the loggione's decisive gutting of Barenboim during the intermission, the upper galleries emptied quickly and the Domingo-enforces stayed around to cheer their hero in front of the curtain. A success surely for Domingo, Hartejos, and most of the cast, but marred by boos, especially directed towards the production team and Barenboim.
Read the rest after the cut!