Simon Boccanegra Synopsis

The Story of Verdi's Opera

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Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Premiered: March 12, 1857 - Teatro La Fenice, Venice

Setting of Simon Boccanegra:
Verdi's Simon Boccanegra takes place in Genoa, Italy during the 14th century. Other Verdi Opera Synopses:
Falstaff, La Traviata, Rigoletto, & Il Trovatore

The Story of Simon Boccanegra

Simon Boccanegra, PROLOGUE

In an attempt to gain control over the Aristocratic patrician party, Paolo and Pietro, leaders of the plebeian party, gather in the piazza and conspire to support Simon Boccanegra as Doge (chief magistrate) of Genoa. Boccanegra, a former pirate, agrees to run for the position, hoping it would allow him to save and marry Maria. Because Maria gave birth to Boccanegra's child illegitimately, she was imprisoned by her father, Fiesco. As Paolo and Pietro garner support for Boccanegra, Fiesco arrives mourning the death of his daughter, Maria. Boccanegra beseeches Fiesco for forgiveness. Fiesco, keeping Maria's death a secret, promises Boccanegra clemency in exchange for his grandchild. Boccanegra explains that his daughter has recently vanished, and Fiesco rushes away. Behind Boccanegra, a gathered crowd begins cheering for him as they elected him to be the new Doge. Boccanegra, unable to pay attention to them, enters Fiesco's palace, only to find Maria's lifeless body.

Simon Boccanegra, ACT 1

Twenty-five years have passed, and Boccanergra, still the Doge of Genoa, has exiled many of his rivals, including Fiesco. Fiesco now lives in a palace outside of the city under the assumed name of Andrea Grimaldi and has been involved in a plot to oust Boccanegra from office. Grimaldi is the guardian of Amelia Grimaldi. (Count Grimaldi had an infant daughter who died in a convent. That very same day, another infant girl was discovered, having been abandoned. The count adopted the abandoned child as his own and named her Amelia.) Since all of the Count's boys were exiled, the only way he could pass on his family's wealth was if he had a daughter. However, neither Fiesco and Boccanegra are aware that Amelia is their granddaughter and daughter respectively.

Amelia, a young woman, awaits for her lover, Gabriele Adorno, the patrician who has been plotting with Fiesco. When he arrives in the garden, Amelia warns him of the dangers of conspiring against the Doge. Though he begins speaking of political issues, Amelia is able to change the conversation to love. She tells him that the Doge has arranged for her to marry Paolo. Gabriele determines to obtain Amelia's guardian's blessing before the Doge can marry her away. When signals of the Doge's arrival are heard, Gabriele rushes to "Andrea" for his blessing. "Andrea" reveals that Amelia was adopted, but Gabriele doesn't mind and "Andrea" gives his blessing. Before any ceremony can take place, Boccanegra arrives. In exchange for the arranged marriage to Paolo, Boccanegra allows Amelia's brothers to return from exile. Impressed by his generosity, she tells the story of her past and proclaims her love for Gabriele. Reminded of his lost daughter, Boccanegra reaches into his pocket and reveals a small locket with a picture of his wife. Amelia notices something intriguing about the locket and retrieves one of her own. Neither of them can believe their eyes when they see that the two lockets are identical. In that moment, they realize they are father and daughter reunited and are overcome with joy. Boccanegra cancels the arranged marriage, which infuriates Paolo. Paolo turns to Pietro and begins to craft a plan to kidnap Amelia.

Simon Boccanegra, ACT 2

Paolo and Pietro meet inside Boccanegra's bedroom. Paolo instructs Pietro to free Gabriele and Fiesco, who were captured earlier, from prison. When Pietro returns with them, Paolo tries to enlist Fiesco's help to murder Boccanegra. When Fiesco refuses, Paolo tells Gabriele that Amelia is the Doge's mistress. Gabriele's heart is consumed with jealousy. Paolo, before departing with Pietro and Fiesco, poisons Boccanegra's glass of water. Moments later, Amelia comes into the room and is greeted with Gabriele's fury. Before she can explain, Boccanegra is heard coming down the hall and Gabriele quickly hides. Boccanegra talks with Amelia and she begs for him to pardon Gabriele. She loves him dearly and would die for him. Having a great love for his daughter, Boccanegra agrees to show mercy to Gabriele. He takes a drink from his water glass and stumbles into his bed, where he falls asleep. Gabriele rushes out of hiding, not having heard the conversation that just took place, and lunges at Boccanegra with a knife. Amelia is quick to stop him. She explains that she only loves him, but keeps her relationship to the Doge a secret. Amelia fears Gabriele's reaction to learning that she is the Doge's daughter because the Doge had killed most of Gabriele's family. When Boccanegra awakens, he reveals that he is Amelia's father. Gabriele is instantly regretful and begs for forgiveness. He swears his allegiance to the Doge and will fight to the death for him. Impressed with his loyalty, the Doge awards Gabriele with his blessing to allow Gabriele to marry Amelia. Outside, a mob has gathered to overthrow Boccanegra.

Simon Boccanegra, ACT 3

"Andrea" is set free from prison once more, after having been caught during the uprising. As Genoa celebrates the Doge's victory, Paolo passes by "Andrea" on his way to being executed. Paolo admits to poisoning the Doge. Fiesco is brought to Boccanegra, who is gravely ill. "Andrea" reveals his true identity, and Boccanegra smiles and tells him he recognizes him. Boccanegra tells Fiesco that Amelia is his long lost daughter. Fiesco, full of remorse, tells Boccanegra that Paolo has poisoned him, and begins to weep. Amelia and Gabriele return as legally wed, and are happy to see the two men reconciled. Boccanegra asks that Fiesco bless and appoint Gabriele as the new Doge once he has passed away. As Boccanegra takes his last few breaths, he turns to his daughter and son-in-law and blesses them. When he dies, Fiesco goes out to the celebrating crowds to give them the news of Boccanegra's death, then appoints the new doge.