Muscat: There are times when taking a chance on unknown art pays off, and the Opera Nice Cote D'Azur production of Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Muscat was one such example.
Simon Boccanegra is one of Giuseppe Verdi's lesser known operas, so perhaps, for that reason not as many people as usual filled the ROHM seats, but for those who went anyway, it was well worth it. From the international cast of sensational singers and beautiful music, to the tense and emotional plot, the opera was captivating and thrilling.
The opera tells the somewhat complicated tale of family feuds, political rivalries, mistaken identities, and a father's love for his daughter. Simon Boccanegra, a pirate-turned-political leader, has an illegitimate child, Maria, with daughter of his rival, Jacopo. Maria goes missing as a child, and is raised unknowingly by Jacopo, who has assumed another identity after losing power to Simon, and thinks she is just an orphan called Amelia. Simon and Jacopo's love for Maria bring the rivalry to an end, but not before Simon is given deadly poison by another who wants power.
The mainly-male cast was filled with superb voices and performers. Simon Boccanegra is an ideal opera for showcasing a variety of male operatic voices, as it includes a baritone, two basses, a bass-baritone and two tenors. Among the standouts in this production were Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias (Simon) and Korean bass-baritone Samuel Youn (Paolo).
Platanias's strong, powerful voice was a beautiful contrast to his subtle, yet effective performance as Simon. His emotions seemed true and raw, especially in the scene when he discovers his daughter. Youn gave another unforgettable performance as Simon's supporter and then betrayer Paolo.
From the minute Youn stepped on stage, his energy and charisma captivated, as did