The action unfolds in Genoa and its surroundings in the 14th
Twenty-five years pass between the prologue and Act I.
A square in Genoa.
Paolo and Pietro discuss who should be the first Doge
of Genoa. Paolo wants it to be Simon Boccanegra, the corsair
who has freed Genoa’s sea territory from African pirates.
Boccanegra is a plebeian, and his election should put
an end to the power of the patricians.
Simon appears. He agrees to Paolo’s entreaties to become the
Doge with reluctance: he has no need of authority, but he
hopes that in becoming the Doge he can marry his beloved
Maria. Her father, the patrician Jacopo Fiesco, does not approve
of her marriage to a corsair and keeps his daughter
under lock and key.
Paolo and Pietro convince the assembled crowd to elect Simon
Boccanegra as the Doge.
Maria has died. Jacopo Fiesco accuses Simon, the father
of her child, of his own daughter’s death. Off-stage the chorus
Boccanegra asks Fiesco for a reconciliation. Fiesco is ready
to forgive Simon if the latter will surrender Fiesco’s granddaughter
to him. But this is impossible: the girl disappeared
Simon enters Fiesco’s palace and sees Maria dead. At the moment the crowd greets the new Doge of Genoa – Simon
Under Simon Boccanegra’s rule the aristocratic Fiesco
and Grimaldi families are exiled. Jacopo Fiesco has taken
refuge on the Grimaldi estate under the name of Andrea.
Boccanegra’s daughter Maria is also there under the name
of Amelia Grimaldi; no-one knows of her true birth.
Amelia awaits her beloved, Gabriele Adorno.
Amelia knows that Gabriele and Andrea are preparing a revolt
against the Doge and asks Gabriele to abandon this dangerous
plan. The Doge arrives at the estate; he plans to ask
for Amelia’s hand on behalf of one of his retainers – Paolo.
Andrea blesses the marriage of Gabriele and Amelia and
tells Gabriele that Amelia Grimaldi is an orphan.
The Doge pardons the Grimaldi family and permits Amelia’s
brothers to return to Genoa. In response Amelia tells
the Doge about herself and admits that she has a beloved.
Boccanegra recognises her as his daughter Maria. Amelia is
delighted – at last she has found her father.
Boccanegra tells Paolo that his marriage to Amelia is impossible.
Paolo is unwilling to accept the Doge’s will and plans
to abduct Amelia.
The Council Chamber in the Doge’s palace.
The Doge and the council discuss affairs of State. The Tatar
khan is defeated and the ships of Genoa are free to sail the
Black Sea; Francesco Petrarca seeks peace in the name of
Venice, but the Genoese councillors call for war.
Cries can be heard from the square – the crowd demands
the Doge’s death. Boccanegra decrees that the rebels led by
Gabriele Adorno be allowed into the palace.
Amelia has been abducted and Gabriele is convinced that the
Doge is responsible. Amelia appears; she has escaped from
her captors and confirms that the true criminal is among those present.
Boccanegra asks for Paolo’s help in finding the abductor and makes him curse the evil-doer.
Paolo is horrified – he has cursed his own self.
A room in the Doge’s palace.
Paolo is obsessed with a desire for revenge: he adds poison
to a decanter lying on the Doge’s table. Pietro brings in Gabriele
Paolo suggests that Fiesco kills the sleeping Doge, but he refuses
to be part of such a dirty piece of work.
Paolo convinces Gabriele that Amelia has become the Doge’s
lover, gives him a dagger and slips away.
Amelia appears. She tries to explain that his jealousy is misplaced,
but Gabriele does not believe her. The Doge enters
and Amelia hides Gabriele on the balcony
Amelia tells her father that her beloved in Gabriele Adorno,
the leader of the resistance. Boccanegra promises to pardon
Gabriele if the latter repents. He drinks the poisoned water
and falls asleep.
Gabriele wants to kill the Doge though Amelia tries to prevent
The Doge awakes. Realising that Amelia is Boccanegra’s
daughter, Gabriele repents and switches sides in
support of the Doge.
The revolt again approaches the palace.
Gabriele sets out to meet them with an offer of peace.
A room in the Doge’s palace.
The rebellion is crushed. Paolo, who took part in the revolt,
is led off to be executed. Before he dies he sees Fiesco and
informs him that he organised Amelia’s abduction and poisoned
A wedding chorus can be heard: Gabriele and Amelia are
Boccanegra is alone. He senses that soon he will die and
with nostalgia recalls the freedom of the sea. Fiesco enters:
he wishes to take revenge on Boccanegra and predicts his
But Simon is pleased to see Fiesco: his
daughter has been found and a reconciliation is at last possible.
Fiesco forgives his old enemy.
Boccanegra dies in the arms of his daughter, naming Gabriele
Fiesco hails the new Doge.