This 2010 Met presentation of Giuseppe Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra is a winner in every aspect, from production to musical direction to the cast’s performances. The latter is especially noteworthy, as tenor Plácido Domingo conquers the meaty title role, written for a baritone. (Mr Domingo first auditioned, in Mexico City at the age of 18, as a baritone. He was told that he was in fact a tenor, advice that has been a boon to opera audiences in the 50 years hence.) This broadcast features a revival of Giancarlo del Monaco’s 1995 production, and it was well enough received in 2010 to be revived again at the Met merely one year later, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing the role of Boccanegra.

Glorious sets by Michael Scott – from the seaside villa where Boccanegra encounters his long-lost daughter Maria (now known as Amelia Grimaldi), to the Doge’s court with its faux-marble floors – as well as bulky but gorgeous costumes also by Mr Scott, are central to this sumptuous and conservative production. Mr del Monaco frames the opera effectively, even if some details are unfaithful to the score, such as ignoring Verdi’s instruction that the final scene show Genoa with its throngs in the background. The assembled masses thus made invisible, the choral interjection of “Boccanegra!” (after Fiesco names Adorno as the Doge) seems almost, and unfittingly, like a hallucination. On the whole, however, this production more than succeeds. Director Peter McClintock marvelously grasps dramatic pacing and character arcs, helping to unify the complicated plot, and Wayne Chouinard’s lighting is evocative and naturalistic.

One asset of the broadcast format is that it allows the audience to experience orchestral introductions and interludes as works of concert music, with close-ups of the conductor and orchestra. This broadcast features the always-stellar playing of the Met Orchestra led by James Levine, whose sense of Verdian timing is essential to the perfect proportions of scenes throughout the opera. (The microphones do tend to amplify any vocal or orchestral imperfections, but this is not a major issue.) Other features of the broadcast, such as interviews with cast members during intermissions, do serve a purpose as well, but risk spoiling the viewer’s suspension of disbelief.

In addition to Mr Domingo’s mature, conflicted portrayal of Boccanegra, the other leading men and woman are excellent. Adrianne Pieczonka presents an Amelia/Maria who is wise and grounded, and while not as airy as some Verdi sopranos, her voice dazzles. At the opposite end of the moral spectrum, Stephen Gaertner as Paolo is a vocally commanding and headstrong villain. James Morris brings gravity to the role of Jacopo Fiesco even if his voice growls a bit in his low register. Marcello Giordani, as Gabriele Adorno, is at his best in fiery, uptempo moments, although his vocal command slips at times. However, any shortcomings – vocal or otherwise – do not make this production less powerful or worth viewing.