The Metropolitan Opera presented the last of performance of its current run of Nabucco as part of its Live in HD broadcasts on January 7th, 2017. It was a delightful afternoon.
The production was directed by Elijah Moshinsky, with sets by John Napier. The conductor was the Met Opera‘s Music Director Emeritus James Levine. The production starred Placido Domingo (Nabucco), Ludmyla Monastyrska (Abigaille), Jamie Barton (Fenena), Russell Thomas (Ismaele), and Dmitry Belosselskiy (Zaccaria.)
The production consists of two sets placed back to back on the Met Opera’s turntable. This allows for the sets to be turned (and altered when needed) or placed at an angle when we required to allow for more depth. The set features a temple in the First Act, but the royal Apartments in Babylon for Acts Two and Four. It also features a single set for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in later acts. The set could perhaps have been a bit more literal, however the set was effective and considering how well it works on the turntable, it helps keep the plot moving forward as there is no need to take lengthy breaks to change the set, but at the same time does not take away from the performance in the least.
The singing was wonderful overall. Placido Domingo, singing the baritone title role, was outstanding. His fourth act aria, Dio di Giuda, was extremely moving and sung lying down on his stomach. For someone in his mid-70s, Mr. Domingo’s performance was incredible. He seems unable to slow down and is demonstrating that age is simply a number. While I have read some reviews questioning Mr. Domingo’s decision to transition into baritone roles, this role only defends his decision in my opinion. He can certainly sing well as a baritone, and can still act.
Both Jaime Barton as Fenena and Russell Thomas as Ismaele left me wishing that they had more scenes to sing in as both were convincing both vocally and dramatically.
The Va, pensiero chorus, plus accompanying encore, was extremely moving and were received with a well deserved long applause from the audience – at Lincoln Center and in the cinema. When the camera panned onto Maestro Levine after the encore, one could see how touched we was at the applause as he gave back a large smile.
Overall, this production was worthwhile attending. If you missed the live broadcast then you need to run, not walk, to the cinema for the encore. You will not be disappointed.