Although not one of Verdi's most performed stage-works, Simon is extremely well served on DVD. There are at present no less than five versions from which one can make a choice, but this February 2010 showstopper from the Met is certainly up there with the very best.
The many dramatic moments in, maybe, Verdi's most darkly tragic piece, give the singers ample opportunities to shine, but undoubtedly this fine production by Giancarlo del Monaco is unmistakably Domingo's showcase. We all know what a great actor and singer he is, but his portrayal of Simon's death is so overwhelmingly poignant that you could hear a pin drop. Watching it at home on the small screen was no different. I hardly dared breathe, lest I should intrude on the dignity of Domingo's interpretation. Adrienne Pieczonka's Amelia runs him close indeed, and to my mind she not only dominated the first scene in Act 2 in her two duets with Adorno and Simon respectively where sparks continually fly, but her stage-presence is majestically commanding and arresting. Marcello Giordani is an exciting and passionate Adorno, while James Morris's Fiesco is full of tormented vengeance and foreboding. Stephen Gartner as Albani and Richard Bernstein as Pietro complete a cast as admirable as one can hope for.
The Met's forces under the amiable yet immaculate James Levine perform out of their skins, and the consistent level of ensemble can only be labeled as miraculous. Michael Scott's impressive period sets and costumes, coupled with the astute direction of Peter McLintock complete a DVD of quintessential quality. Audio and visuals are state-of-the-art; two other reasons why I give this issue in the series "Opera from the Met in HD Live" a wholehearted recommendation.
Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech