A very good Nabucco with a compelling Guleghina and Nucci in one of his best performances
Nabucco is not one of Verdi's very best, in regard to the plot, but musically it is the first Verdi to consistently scream of "masterpiece", with Va Pansiero and Dio Di Guida the highlights. This production is very good, if perhaps not the best version. My first choice has always been the 1985 Bruson and Dimitrova production, though I do like the 2002 Met production and 1979 production with Milnes and Bumbry(if more musically than visually).
If there are any complaints I have of this Nabucco, it is not many as such but enough to not make me like the production more. Firstly, some of the camera work. Mostly it is solid, but others where it focuses too much on someone or something and nothing else for too long. This was especially true in the finale of Act 1 with the camera focused on Fenena and nobody else. Another problem was some of the symbols. I wouldn't mind if they were there to enrich the story, but I would if they proved distracting and felt too much, like they did here.
There was also one performance I wasn't taken with, and that was the Ismaele of Miroslav Dvorsky. Now Dvorsky has a great voice, ringing, dark and musically used. The problem was his acting, although it is a problem I find with a number of Ismaeles it was too stolid and almost as if he thought he was singing in a concert. I know others may be deterred by the prolonged applause between Va Pansiero and the Prophecy scene, understandable as it can hinder the reprimand following dramatically, but seeing as this is true of other Nabuccos as well I didn't mind so much.
So much compensates though. I did very much like the stylised blues and grey colour scheme of the sets, and the fading of the lighting over Verona was very effective. The costumes, especially with the Hebrew slaves who are dressed like holocaust prisoners in a sense, are acceptable enough, and the ballet sequences are interestingly choreographed and credibly performed. Musically, this Nabucco is superb. I loved the balance and power of the orchestral playing, the chorus sing Va Pansiero with stirring poignancy and Fabio Luisi's conducting is full of brisk tempos and precise efficiency.
And other than Dvorsky, the principals are great. Marina Domaschenko is an excellent Fenena, stylishly acted and beautifully sung. Giacomo Prestia is wonderful as Zaccaria, the voice is fresh and sonorous in alternative to wobbly and his prophesying is suitably impassioned. But it is the two leads that dominate, and what performances they are. Maria Guleghina is a very compelling Abaigaille, the role is a voice-killer, and not only is the voice powerful and sounds as though it is in command with the music but her acting is forceful. Leo Nucci is every bit as good in the title role(his third best performance on DVD after his 1989 Il Barbiere Di Siviglia and his 2001 I Due Foscari), better than Pons in the role if not quite as good as Bruson and Milnes. While the acting is slightly overdone at first, it gets better and better until it is rich, intense and emotionally devastating, and the voice is quite dark and still fascinating, not as pushed as it sometimes can be.
Overall, very good and worth the look for the two leads. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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