Verdi’s Nabucco a biblical masterpiece

Another opera treasure will be revealed at 9:55 a.m. this Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Salmar Classic Theatre

  • Jan. 4, 2017 1:00 p.m.

Full voice: The legendary Plácido Domingo (right) brings a new baritone role to the Metropolitan Opera as the Babylonian King in Nabucco

Another opera treasure will be revealed at 9:55 a.m. this Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Salmar Classic Theatre.

Giuseppe Verdi’s third opera, Nabucco, premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in 1842 during the Risorgimento, or “Resurgence,” an exciting time in Italian history, says opera enthusiast Gabriele Klein.

“Nabucco is the stirring drama about the fall of ancient Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco),” she says.

With this opera, the 28-year old Verdi became instantly famous. It was a time of surging patriotic fervor culminating in the founding of the modern nation of Italy.

Specifically, the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in which the Israelites express their longing for their homeland, came to stand for the country’s aspirations for unity and desire to throw off the Austrian occupiers.

Verdi’s role in Italy’s cultural and political development has made him an icon in his native country.

The librettist Temistocle Solera takes some liberties with biblical history, and the characters, other than the title role, are dramatic inventions. But the story as a whole stays close to events as they are related in Jewish scriptures: primarily Jeremiah, as well as 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Daniel, and the Psalms. The first part takes place around the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C., with the remainder of the opera set in various locations in the city of Babylon.

The legendary Plácido Domingo brings another new baritone role to the Met as the Babylonian King, under the baton of his longtime collaborator James Levine. Liudmyla Monastyrska is Abigaille, the ambitious warrior woman determined to rule empires. Dmitri Belosselskiy is the noble high priest of Jerusalem, Zaccaria, whose stentorian voice expresses the longings of the oppressed Hebrew people. The two young lovers are Jamie Barton as the heroic Fenena, daughter of the King of Babylon and Russell Thomas as Ismaele an Israeli prisoner. The production is by Elijah Moshinsky

The world famous chorus of the Hebrew slaves will be familiar to many – it is considered by some to be the unofficial Italian national anthem.

This biblical drama with its stellar cast will surely thrill viewers and demonstrate the universal power of storytelling through opera.



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