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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Simon Boccanegra, by Giuseppe Verdi

Helsinginkatu 58, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

The British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor has a way of taking his viewers’ minds captive—just watch tourists and locals in Chicago’s Millennium Park in thrall to his Cloud Gate, popularly known as “The Bean.” Shiny as quicksilver, the mammoth whatchamacallit seems to gather all the eye can see—the very dome of the sky, and all that lies beneath it, from skyscrapers to folks walking their dogs—onto its immaculate, reflective surface. Kapoor, in short, is the kind of sui generis visual artist the chameleonlike French stage director Pierre Audi seeks out. Verdi’s brooding Simon Boccanegra ain’t these guys’ first rodeo, and it’s apt to cast a spell. The Finnish National Opera and Ballet, famous for boosting often splendid homegrown voices, is fielding a high-powered international cast this time. The Bulgarian baritone Vladimir Stoyanov stars as the pirate raised to the throne of Genoa; the Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury is his daughter Amelia, stolen from him while still a girl. The Latvian tenor Mihails Čulpajevs shows up as her noble if mildly clueless love interest, but it’s the reunion of the father and daughter that forms the core of the drama. Pietro Rizzo conducts. —Matthew Gurewitsch