Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nabucco Preview 2011-12

The Production
Nabucco returns to the Met after a 6 year absence. The opera Nabucco is known for its challenging soprano role and as a result few sopranos have sang it. The Result is that the Met has only presented it a limited number of times and has only staged it twice. The return of Nabucco comes with the return of the Elijah Moshinsky's production, a production that premiered in 2001 with Maria Guleghina, Juan Pons and Samuel Ramey. The production is traditional and rotates on a turn table in order to keep the action moving. Think Il Trovatore by David McVicar with more lavish sets and without stupid concepts. The direction is old school and as a result there is more standing around or how I like to call it "Parking and Barking". However with great singing actors, acting can occur.

 The Cast
Maria Guleghina returns to the role of Abigaille for the third time at the Met. She first sang the role in 2001 and then in 2005 where she was hailed for her drmatic power. The NY times praised Guleghina for throwing her "powerful soprano ardently." However time has passed and Guleghina's voice has chnaged. Guleghina has always had a powerful voice and wonderful low notes. Her voice has never been beautiful but it has always been balanced and stable. However I can't help but notice that Guleghina no longer has good high notes and her singing is unstable and at times wobbly. She struggles to reach her high notes and almost always ends up screaming them or singing flat. This was best displayed in her Turandot which she sang at the Met two years ago. She had the power for a great Turandot but lacked the high notes and the stability. I am a big fan of Guleghina as I have always admired her acting ability and her stage presence. However I must admit that I am concerned about her returning to this role. I don't know if she can pull off the high notes and the coloratura runs that are required for the role. However if her Lady Macbeth is any indication of what this Nabucco may be, then perhaps it could be great. After all Puccini and Verdi require different vocal techniques.

Zeljko Lucic sings his first Nabucco at the Met. Ever since his debut in 2006 in La Gioconda, Lucic has become a house favorite singing every major Verdi role. His high point in my opinion was Macbeth which was recorded in HD alongside Guleghina. Lucic showed beautiful vocals with amazing lyrical praising and great dramatic skills. These performances gave us great promise and even suggested that he could become the next great Verdi Bartione in the world of Opera. However, ever since this run, Lucic has gone on to sing subpar performances of Rigoletto, Trovatore, and Traviata. He has shown his musicality in each of these performances but his breath control and his tone are something to worry about. Perhaps this is due to the smoking that he claims to be a guilty pleasure. I wonder if his Nabucco will be as good as his Macbeth or as unstable as his recent performances.

The chorus is probably the most important part of this opera as they sing throughout. They accompany the singers in their arias and cabalettas and they have plenty of numbers most famously "Va Pensiero" which the chorus encores when the audience responds well. With a chorus master as great as Donald Palumbo I am sure the chorus is bound to be the highlight of the evening.

Before concluding my entry I want to add that the return of Nabucco also marks the reuniting of Guleghina and Lucic. When they sang together in the new production premiere of Macbeth, their chemistry was a force of nature. I assume that they have not lost it. As a result this is something that really excites me about the return of the opera.

I am really excited about the return of this gem. However I feel concerned about both the principals as they are no longer at the heights of their careers. I can only hope that they surprise.


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