Opera Scotland

Simon Boccanegra 1979Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Simon Boccanegra

At its first performances in 1978 this production was not entirely successful.  For its tours in the spring and autumn of 1979, with almost complete changes of cast as well as of conductor, it was much improved. Graham Vick tightened up the action and Victor Lockwood's lighting created a moving atmosphere during the dying fall of the last two acts.  It is a pity that this wonderfully moving opera, never seen before in Scotland, was not revived at least once more.

Both Roderick Brydon and Henry Lewis found a natural sense of the ebb and flow in this dark score and coaxed beautiful playing from the orchestra.  On 1 June Malcolm Donnelly, having sung Paolo in the autumn,  continued his steady development into the heavy Verdian repertoire.  Linda Esther Gray, who had missed the opening run because of illness, seemed to have recovered, and on 30 May her voice soared gloriously in the Council Chamber scene.  Her Gabriele was a diminutive Italian who made an excellent impression.  Bill McCue gave a nobly restrained and moving account of Fiesco - perhaps the best role of his career.

The second cast, seen at the final performance on 22 September, brought a Hungarian baritone, Lajos Miller, wielding an excellently schooled and powerful voice.  The American tenor Jon Frederic West was also making his British debut.  While both were good, they did not have quite the subtlety of approach of their predecessors in the spring.  The excellent Swedish soprano Helena Döse was already a familiar visitor to Glyndebourne and Covent Garden, and would soon return to Scottish Opera (as an accomplished Tatyana). The French bass Pierre Thau, not previously known, made an excellent, highly involved, Fiesco and would also return to Scotland for performances of Pelléas.

Performance Cast

Paolo Albiani a goldsmith, initially a friend of Simon

Donald Maxwell

Pietro leader of the plebeians

Norman White

Simon Boccanegra a Genoese corsair, later Doge

Malcolm Donnelly (Mar-Jun)

Lajos Miller (Sep)

Jacopo Fiesco a patrician, later disguised as Andrea Grimaldi

William McCue (Mar-Jun)

Pierre Thau (Sep)

Amelia Grimaldi in fact Maria, Simon's daughter

Linda Esther Gray (Mar-Jun)

Helena Döse (Sep)

Gabriele Adorno a patrician, in love with Amelia

Simon Doro Antonioli (Mar-Jun)

Jon Frederic West (Sep)


Malcolm Aitken (Mar-Jun)

Jim Croom (Sep)

Performance DatesSimon Boccanegra 1979

Map List

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton

8 Mar, 19.15 10 Mar, 19.15

New Theatre | Oxford

21 Mar, 19.15 23 Mar, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

30 May, 19.15 1 Jun, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

11 Sep, 19.15 13 Sep, 19.15 15 Sep, 19.15

Empire Theatre, Liverpool | Liverpool

19 Sep, 19.15 22 Sep, 19.15

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