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Having been brought up as Amelia Grimaldi, Cristina Ballardo-Domâs is really Maria Boccanegra. By now she is in love with the noble Gabriele Adorno of Miroslav Dvorský, whose relationship is by no means acceptable to Boccanegra [watch and listen -- chapter 12, 36:45-38:02]. The Council scene, in contrasting blacks and whites, is wonderfully staged. It is here that Verdi insisted on the insertion of a Petrarch quotation hinting at a possibly unified Italy. Here, too, it is gradually revealed that Amelia is the long-lost Maria, not at all pleased at being pursued by Paolo, now a trusted confidant of her father. He in his turn has no wish for her to marry an Adorno [watch and listen -- chapter 15, 44:37-45:45].

Cristina Gallardo-Domâs as Amelia Grimaldi/Maria Boccanegra. DVD screenshot © 2002 ORF
Cristina Gallardo-Domâs as Amelia Grimaldi/Maria Boccanegra. DVD screenshot © 2002 ORF

Now that Maria is very properly in the Doge's household, Gabriele is convinced she is his mistress, and acuses her of abandoning him. She just asks for a chance to explain [watch and listen -- chapter 29, 89:17-90:17]. But then the Doge interrupts them and claims that Adorno is plotting against him. Persuaded by Maria, Boccanegra eventually agrees to pardon him, and now it is the rejected Paolo who in grim reality schemes against the Doge to the length of poisoning him. Hampson has given a noble performance throughout, but nothing becomes him more than his death scene, during which Maria and Gabriele are united [watch and listen -- chapter 38, 125:10-127:03]. Gabriele is indeed chosen as future Doge.

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Copyright © 13 August 2007 Robert Anderson, London UK


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