Streaks of gold. Among Verdi operas that connoisseurs treasure but not the general public, Simon Boccanegra stands high. In the modern era there have been perhaps two worthy recordings and very occasional stagings. Yet suddenly Boccanegra is everywhere, thanks to the decision by Placido Domingo to take on a baritone role. Last night at the Proms he scored a spectacular success, with popping flashbulbs and shouting worthy of the World Cup. Verdi was a confirmed atheist, but if his shade survives, it must have been astonished – the reception was far wilder than the one accorded to Die Meistersinger the night before.
Royal Opera House
his latest ROH Rosenkavalier has so far had middling reviews, many focusing their criticism largely on the production, which originated in 1984 under the late John Schlesinger and here directed by Andrew Sinclair, which they believe to be showing its age. It has been revived many times, and therefore probably dulled by overfamiliarity for some, but to this first-time viewer it seemed understandable that the company would wish to extract the maximum mileage from it—perhaps a lull before an exciting new production comes storming in to mark the opera’s 100th anniversary in 13 months’ time?
What better way to anticipate the Fourth of July than spending time with Richard Strauss, who fiddled while the Nazis burned Europe? He languished in apparent dotage as the Yanks stormed the beach at Normandy. Suddenly the first oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra showed up at Strauss’s mountain retreat in Bavaria. Then a uniformed GI, the oboist commissioned a concerto from the snowy-haired, stork-like composer, and a minor masterpiece was born.