When this new DVD first surfaced I was interested in view of its pedegree, i.e., an Italisn performance of a Verdi opera--a rareity these days. As it turns out the Gariele is an Albanian, but in Simon it is the lower voices which count for most.
I was familiar with Frontali, the baritone who sings Simon--a Falstaff from the Teatro Bussetto. No Bastiannini nor a Taddei, he is currently the only thing that resembles a Verdi baritone. One could wish for more nuance and light and shadow, both of which exist in the role and for the most part he delivers; alas on the final high A in the great Amelia/Simon duet he is initially flat, recoveers but fails to scale the dynamics down to a "piano". This is a niggling point, but the duet is surely one of Verdi's most glorious and those who know Simon know how the duet should end. The Amelia is a young Italian soprano, Carmen Giannattasio. She is a lyric soprano, quite gifted and intelligent, but as with Te Kanewa the great Council Chamber scene can overwhelm their vocal line. The Gabriele, Giuseppi Gipali is a somewhat provincial singer. He doesn't embarrass himelf but the voice is hardly in the Domingo league and is not likely to acquire any kind of international stardom. The real disappointment in this set is the Fiesco, Giacomo Prestia. He pales next to Plishka and Lloyd, and even worse there is an incipient wobble. Unfortunately the first time I ever heard Il lacerato spirito was an old 78 with Alexander kipnis, one of the greatest basses of the 20th century. And even though a slav his sense of line and legato are perfect--I can't imagine this aria ever being sung better. It really isn't fair to hold today's singers to standards that are apparently unattainable today. Regarding Signore Prestia's performance I will note that it can be better sung, but by today's standards it is "satisfactory".
The set does possess a wonderful Paolo, Marco Viatogna. A pity that the role isn't larger.
The production is somewhat minamalist, typical of what we see today in many houses in Europe. Alas it is not particularly evocative of Genoa and the sea. In fact it is not particularly evocative of anything.
I really wanted to like this set better and am not unhappy that I have it. I wanted to hear evidence that there is still an Italian tradition. Lord knows the performances on Dynamic are poor evidence of such; this performance on Arthaus does give one hope, but not as much as I expected.