Verdi's 'Nabucco' Welcomes Saturday Broadcasts into the New Year

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Liudmyla Monastyrska as Abigaille and Plácido Domingo in Nabucco Liudmyla Monastyrska as Abigaille and Plácido Domingo as Nabucco (Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

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

Comments [6]

Les from Miami, Florida

Also, inexplicably to me, is that the "Cadron..." chorus was cut as well as the cabaletta Mr. Keller posted right before the a capella "Immenso Jehovah"...a minite saved?

Jan. 09 2017 06:09 AM
FredKeller from Rio de Janeiro

was there a reason the act 4 cabaletta was not sung in this performance? is like Manrico not singing " di quella pira" !

Jan. 08 2017 08:24 PM

Thanks all for sharing info and memories! Feeling a NY State of mind in a snowstorm in Southern New England.
Bravo Levine and all!! Hugs Placido!!

Jan. 07 2017 05:21 PM
Theodore Cerame from Perris, CA

Excellent critique Les. I learned from it. Thank you.

Wonderful to hear the two legendary Maestro’s teeming up in today’s performance. Reminds me of the classic Levine days.
Is it me or does everyone else hear the remarkable difference of the overall performance when Levine is at the helm? The orchestra, the whole company sounds sharper, crisp. If I were a betting man I would say that Levine provides us with a performance as close to the original Verdi as he would have wished, and after Verdi, second to none.
We often do not realize how difficult it is to even get close to interpreting such an opera. To achieve the harmony, timing, sound, closeness to Verdi as James Levine does is as rare as the genius of Verdi himself. He would have been as proud of our Met’s dear Master, as we are today, about 149 years later.
G. Verdi’s music is immortal and shall continue to be so as long as men like J. Levine and P. Domingo are born in generations to come as we are sure they will, though as rare as is their they.
Good Listening and Happy New Year

Jan. 07 2017 03:53 PM
Mary Jane Hodge from Huntingron

A snowy day in New York and listening to Nabucco. And James Levine and Domingo! In the 70s there was no early Verdi that I can remember at the Met and we taxied down to LaMama for a performance on a small stage. A lovely memory. Enjoying today's performance.

Jan. 07 2017 03:21 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

I feel with finality that among this season's highlights must be included this matine'e performance of "Nabucco" with an appropriate Biblical production by Elijah Moshinsky conducted by James Levine. The casting looks excellent. Every act or part is named (like "Il Trovatore"): "Jerusalem", "The Wicked Man", "The Prophecy" and "The Broken Idol"; and, for me, there's not anything that doesn't have appropriate or memorable music. There's the range of emotion the chorus provides from the first sung music "Gli arrendi...", lamentation, to the iconic "Va, pensiero...", hope, in Part III, to the vengeance of "Cadran, cadran..." in Part IV. Nabucco's arrogance, his madness and his conversion ring true, just as Abigaille's haughtiness and ultimate humility of her death scene. Zaccaria's prayer in Part II is pure sensitively underscored by the division of six 'cellos with one solo part, but he can also thunder with prophetic rage at the end of Part III. Viva Verdi!

Jan. 07 2017 08:38 AM

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