On Saturday at 1 pm, Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco will be broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, as James Levine conducts.
Since its premier at La Scala in 1842, Nabucco has remained a Verdi favorite. Ironically, although generations of audiences have loved it, the opera came at the end of a low-point in the composer’s life. In the years leading up to the creation of Nabucco, a series of personal tragedies and an icy reception for his second opera — Un giorno di regno — led Verdi to quit opera for good. Luckily, one of Verdi’s close friends and supporters convinced him to try again, and Nabucco was born. The opera was popular from the start and the “Va, Pensiero” chorus has endured in the ears of music lovers everywhere.
Verdi was politically active throughout his life and held a number of elected posts, if at least in name. His musical efforts have often been included in discussions about his politics, and Nabucco is no exception. Though it takes place in 5th century B.C. Babylon, some contend that the case of the Israelites longing to return to their homeland is a clear commentary on the composer’s desire for a unified Italian nation, free of oppressive foreign influences.
Take a listen to this week’s episode of the He Sang, She Sang podcast to learn more about Nabucco and Verdi’s inspiration, along with commentary from Jamie Barton (Fenena) and dramaturg Cori Ellison.
Conductor: James Levine
Abigaille: Liudmyla Monastyrska
Fanena: Jamie Barton
Ismaele: Russell Thomas
Nabucco: Plácido Domingo
Zaccaria: Dmitry Belosselskiy