Tuesday, April 23

Nabucco – Met Opera Live in HD

Verdi’s biblical story is brought to life in biblical proportions with this fifth revival from director J. Knighten Smit’s of the late Elijah Moshinsky’s original production complete with John Napier’s impressive set design taking full advantage of the stage’s turntable.

In Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, the terrified Hebrews await the arrival of the conquering Babylonian king, Nabucco (George Gagnidze), who is renowned for his cruelty. The Hebrew high priest Zaccaria (Dmitry Belosselskiy) has kidnapped Nabucco’s daughter, Fenena (Maria Barakova) entrusting her safe keeping to Ismaele (SeokJong Baek), and their love for each other is soon revealed. Nabucco’s elder daughter, Abigaille (Liudmyla Monastyrska), is also in love with Ismaele and offers to save the Jewish people if he will give himself to her. Whilst Ismaele saves Fenena from Zaccaria’s attempt to kill her, Nabucco orders the destruction of the temple: is anyone going to get out of this alive?

With conductor Daniele Callegari presiding over the pit, it was a delight to enjoy a fast-paced performance from the off with the well-known Overture bristling with brilliance as the orchestra handled the score’s contrasts of the dynamic and the serene, constantly keeping the drama alive and moving the story along, with their colourful sound well matched by Andreane Neofitou’s costume and Howard Harrison’s lighting design.

Gagnidze opened unsteadily but as the character took hold he came into his own singing expressively and capturing the confusion and sorrow of Nabucco before he emerges resplendent, powerful and forgiving with a powerful stage presence.

© Marty Sohl

Abigaille – along with Bellini’s Norma – is a make-or-break role for any soprano and Monastyrska impressively has both the power and the range, although her constant movement – particularly up and down the stairs with the need to concentrate on not tripping on her long dress – did on occasion detract from a smooth delivery.

Belosselskiy’s Zaccaria was subdued and uneven and only really steadied in the second half. Given this is a role he has performed many times – perhaps it was nerves in front of the cameras – it took away from the resoluteness of belief so necessary for this role.

Barakova served up a rounded vocal that moved seamlessly across her range capturing the vulnerability of Fenena perfectly with the legato in her prayer to God an absolute joy.

Baek is making his Met debut with this production although the role is small and so there were only hinting glimpses at his potential which will hopefully come to fruition later in the season in another production.

A special mention for Brittany Olivia Logan as Anna, Zaccaria’s sister, also showed some promising potential with a strong composed performance: one to keep an eye out for in the future.

The highlight for me was the Chorus who deliver some two thirds of the vocal and it was lovely to see chorus master Donald Palumbo join them for a deserved ovation at the end. They transitioned perfectly through the emotions from anger to anguish through smooth phrasing to explosive outbursts through to diminuendo into a beautiful silence, with the haunting lyrical beauty of their ‘Va, pensiero’ – Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves – incredibly moving.

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 6th January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.