Magazine article Opera Canada

Nabucco: Susan Novas (Abigaille) and Gaetan Laperriere in the Title Role of the Opera Do Montreal Production. (Montreal)

Magazine article Opera Canada

Nabucco: Susan Novas (Abigaille) and Gaetan Laperriere in the Title Role of the Opera Do Montreal Production. (Montreal)

Article excerpt

It is hard to go wrong with Verdi's Nabucco, his fourth opera and his first huge success. It's almost impossible to resist the musical high drama of this Biblical epic, nor the more personal exchanges between the protagonists that presage Verdi's later operas so clearly. If the soloists are true to the vocal style, the choir well drilled and the brass section allowed to strut its stuff, the rest of the opera will, as it were, take care of itself.

Happily, L'Opera de Montreal scored well on all points in this production, last performed a decade ago in Montreal on the occasion of the opera's 150th anniversary but here remounted to recognize the centenary of the composer's death. Fluidly staged by Robert Tannenbaum, production director at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, and evocatively lit by Guy Simard, the production was an engaging piece of storytelling. If the staging favored the stand-and-deliver style of grand opera, it was likely consistent with the way Verdi wrote it. Claude Girard's atmospheric set proved flexible enough to manage the difficult scene changes (albeit at the cost of some delays that threatened to interrupt the dramatic momentum), while the Malabar costumes looked as if they were remnants from an old movie epic. (To be fair, though, if you look at the costume sketches for the original production of Nabucco, you can see where the likes of Cecil B. DeMille got their idea of the way people dressed in Biblical times.) Conduc tor Christian Badea led the Orchestre Metropolitan du Grand Montreal--Kudos, again, to the precise and exciting brass-with a sure sense of Verdi's rhythmic drive and a good ear for dramatic contrast and color. …

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