Opera Philadelphia



In 1339 the people of Genoa, weary of factional warfare between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, created the office of Doge to help consolidate the Genoese republic. Paolo and Pietro, leaders of the People's Party, plot to obtain the power of the aristocracy by electing the popular corsair, Simon Boccanegra, as puppet Doge. Boccanegra accepts their proposal so that he may marry Maria, daughter of the noble Jacopo Fiesco, who has imprisoned her ever since she bore Boccanegra's child. After a mob of commoners, incited by Pietro, pledges support of the corsair's cause, Fiesco emerges from his palace to the square, mourning Maria's death. Unaware of the tragedy, Boccanegra asks his friendship, but the implacable old man demands to be given his granddaughter. Boccanegra laments that the child has disappeared and despairing of further talk rushes into the deserted palace and finds Maria's casket. As he comes out a mob hails him as Doge.


Twenty-five years have passed. In the garden of the Grimaldi palace, where the embittered Fiesco now lives in hiding under the pseudonym Andrea, his ward Amelia awaits her lover, Gabriele Adorno, who has joined Fiesco in a plot to overthrow Boccanegra. When the youth enters she tells him that the Doge wishes her to marry Paolo; at once Gabriele seeks out Fiesco to obtain the old man's blessing for himself. Suddenly Boccanegra arrives and in an interview with Amelia discovers that she is his long-lost daughter. The guardian in whose care he had placed her had died; the child had wandered to a convent where she had taken the place of the true Amelia Grimaldi, recently dead, so that the wealth of the exiled Grimaldi might not be confiscated but remain in the hands of the family. When Boccanegra learns that his daughter loves Gabriele, he refuses to give her to Paolo, who kidnaps her. While negotiating a treaty between Genoa and Venice in his council chamber, the Doge is interrupted by shouts in the streets. He bravely admits the unruly mob that has captured both Fiesco, who goes unrecognized, and Gabriele, who defiantly charges Boccanegra with Amelia's abduction and tries to stab him. Amelia herself rushes in and throws herself between them. She pleads with the Doge to forgive Gabriele, who suspects she is Boccanegra's mistress, and describes her abduction, hinting at Paolo's complicity. The Doge quiets the raging spectators and commands Paolo, as a state official, to curse the man who plotted this infamy. Sick with horror, he does so and rushes from the hall as the assembly repeats his curse. Fiesco and Gabriele are sent to prison.


In the Doge's apartment, Paolo pours poison into Boccanegra's drinking bowl. Summoning Fiesco from his cell he vainly urges the old man to assassinate Boccanegra. Next, he incites Gabriele to fury with insinuations as to the Doge's relationship with Amelia. When the youth is left to his thoughts, Amelia enters, but before she can explain to Gabriele that the Doge is her father, Boccanegra follows. Gabriele hides in the balcony. Amelia asks her father to pardon her lover; he agrees on condition that the young man promise to desert the conspirators. Left alone the weary ruler drinks Paolo's potion and falls asleep. Gabriele, who has heard nothing, emerges from hiding and draws his knife, but Amelia returns in time to stop him from murdering her father. At last Gabriele learns the truth and implores the Doge's forgiveness. As cries of rebellion are heard, the two men rush off to help defend the palace.


All Genoa celebrates Boccanegra's victory. Magnanimously he has set most of the rebel leaders free, including Fiesco, but the traitorous Paolo is con- demned to death. On his way to execution the villain informs Fiesco that he has managed to poison the Doge. A Captain announces that revels must end in memory of the fallen heroes of the revolution. Boccanegra staggers in, gravely ill. Fiesco, still bent on revenge, reveals to the Doge his true identity, whereupon he learns who Amelia really is. Stunned, Fiesco tells Boccanegra that Paolo has poisoned him. As the Doge dies, he blesses the newly married Gabriele and Amelia, asking that the youth be proclaimed the new Doge. Fiesco announces Boccanegra's death to the people.

Courtesy of Opera News

MapAcademy of Music

Dates are Sep - Oct 2023.

Fri, Sep 22 8:00 p.m.
Sun, Sep 24 2:00 p.m.
Fri, Sep 29 8:00 p.m.
Sun, Oct 1 2:00 p.m.

Approximately 3 hours including one 20-minute intermission

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