Sunday, December 12, 2010

Verdi's Nabucco playing in Florida

VERDI'S NABUCCO has been playing in Palm Beach, Florida:
Mostly excellent cast lifts Palm Beach Opera’s static “Nabucco”

By David Fleshler

Mark Rucker in the title role of Verdi's "Nabucco," which runs through Monday at Palm Beach Opera.

Absent for 25 years, Verdi’s Nabucco returned to Palm Beach Opera Friday with a mostly excellent cast, stark but dramatic sets and another fine performance by the company’s orchestra.

An opera isn’t mounted for a generation without a reason, and Verdi’s third opera has a creaking, preachy plot that ends with the Hebrew high priest telling the Babylonian ruler Nabucco, “In serving Jehovah, you shall be the king of kings.” But Verdi poured some great music into this musty libretto, and it was well served by this musically energetic production, which runs through Monday.

Rather than treating the opera as an opportunity for massive, intimidating sets filled with Old Testament props, the company used an effective, almost abstract Opéra de Montréal production with clean lines and a few iconic symbols. In the opening temple of Jerusalem scene, the setting consisted of steps, a few pillars and a menorah. As the scene moves to the Babylonian capital, there were more pillars, steps and the image of a mythical half-lion, half-eagle griffin. Dramatic lighting, which by the last scene illuminated the stage in eerie shades of orange and blue, helped make these austere sets work.

Nabucco also recently played at Masada.