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Subject: "Nabucco" at the Met Last Monday, 12/19
From: Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 25 Dec 2016 22:04:13 -0500

text/plain (85 lines)

Dear Listers:

I returned from New York a couple of days ago, where Lynne Price and I spent a few days 
after attending a dazzling performance of "Nabucco" at the Met on Monday the 19th.  I had 
actually started writing a review on the performance on one of the two public computers in 
our hotel's lobby, but unfortunately, just when I was almost finished, ka-BLOOIE!, the 
public computer logged itself out and rebooted automatically, without any warning at all.  
The hotel's reception desk told me the computers were programmed to do that at regular 
intervals so guests didn't "hog" the computers, which was silly because I was the only guest 
using a computer at the time and the other one had not been used at all.  Discouraged after 
losing all my work, I decided to wait until I was home to write another review, so here it is.

In a nutshell, all I can say is this: there are four performances of "Nabucco" left (Dec. 27 & 
30, and Jan 3 & 7), and if you are anywhere near New York during that period, RUN, DO 
NOT WALK to catch one of the remaining performances.  Lynne Price and I had a splendid 
evening and loved everything about this production.

Although "Nabucco" is one of my favorite operas, which I listen to regularly at home, I had 
only ever been able to see one live production of it, and that was at the Baltimore Opera 
way back in the mid-nineties.  Although Baltimore did a very commendable job, especially 
considering its limited resources, experiencing "Nabucco" live at the Met with *that* 
orchestra and especially *that* chorus was quite another ball of wax indeed !  Thanks to all 
the brilliant performances by all involved, Verdi's score, brimming with youthful energy and 
enthusiasm, really caught fire.  Personally, I just *love* the music of "Nabucco," even if it 
isn't quite as "polished" and "sophisticated"as Verdi's later scores.

The orchestra under James Levine was superb, and the Metropolitan Opera chorus was, 
well, dazzling, in an opera where as you all know the chorus plays such a major role.  The 
"Va Pensiero" was justifiably encored and applauded with great enthusiasm.

Lynne and I had been prepared to dislike Plácido Domingo's performance in the title role, as 
we had reservations -- unfounded, as it turned out -- about his age and suitability for this 
demanding role.  Well, we are both eating humble pie (or doffing or hats in respect, if you 
prefer) at this point, because Mr. Domingo gave an amazing performance.  Yes, the voice is 
not what it used to be in terms of power and "squillo," but it is still pretty darned good and 
many much younger singers would be thrilled to sing as well as he still does.  Mr. Domingo 
gave a very nuanced and emotion-filled performance, using his 75-year-old voice with great 
artistry to convey first Nabucco's cruelty and truculence, then shading it as his character 
gradually developed feelings of humanity and empathy toward the oppressed Jews, 
eventually embracing their God and their religion.  Several times we were on the verge of 
tears.  Also amazing was the way Mr. Domingo bounded up and down steep stairs, sang 
from the edge of a precipitous platform, and even sang kneeling down, which I think is quite 
a physical feat for even a younger man.  Maestro Domingo, you are one hell of a trouper ! 

Liudmyla Monastyrska was awesome as the wild, demented, and evil Abigaille, easily 
meeting all the perilous vocal demands of her role and perfectly expressing the madness 
and malice of her character, yet ending the opera movingly as a sorrowful and repentant 
woman who realizes her life has been a purposeless fraud.

Dmitry Belosselskiy as Zaccaria, Russell Thomas as Ismaele, and Jamie Barton as Fenena 
were all excellent.  Danielle Talamentes as Anna, Zaccaria's sister, and Sava Vemi&#263; as the 
High Priest rounded out this very fine cast with competence, albeit in very small roles.  Mr. 
Vemi&#263; was quite enjoyable in his role as a fey and sadistic High Priest, leering malignantly 
like a silent-movie villain.  He look liked he was having fun and I had fun watching him.

Lynne and I loved Elijah Moshinsky's production and stage direction.  John Napier's 
impressive rotating set avoided the trap of Babylonian hanging-garden picturesqueness 
while perfectly illustrating the mood of totalitarian terror and ominous oppression that 
pervades this opera.  Good costumes by Andreane Neofitou.

Really, Lynne and I both felt there was nothing to criticize but everything to enjoy in this 
production of "Nabucco."

As I wrote above, *DO* try and see this "Nabucco" if you are anywhere near New York -- 
you will be rewarded by a whale of an evening at the opera.

Merry Christmas,


Alain Letort
Washington, D.C.

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