Nabucco, Welsh National Opera, review: 'A stupendous chorus and excellent cast'
See opera that shot Verdi to fame at Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre
Monday 02 June 2014
Nabucco is the opera that shot Verdi to fame and begat his status as a folk hero.
Its biblical pitching of Babylonians against Hebrews just vindicates Welsh National Opera’s faith banner for this new production by director Rudolf Frey, but the real drama lies in the personal rather than the religious or political.
Historical settings are jettisoned for a bare, drab modern day, avoiding Middle East references beyond Nabucco’s Gaddafi-esque uniform and Ismaele’s kippah and tzitzit. Two cults lock horns: one garish with false glittery tat, the other freakish with ritualistic gestures, yet supposedly truer and, ultimately, victorious.
A stupendous chorus and excellent cast were the real winners. Together they soared above dowdiness and kitsch to render entirely plausible the agonies of love, jealousy and confused loyalties, supported with admirable pace and panache by conductor Xian Zhang’s WNO Orchestra.
Justina Gringyte and Robyn Lyn Evans were well-matched lovers in Fenena and Ismaele, whilst David Kempster eventually found depth as Nabucco. Kevin Short’s Zaccaria had great vocal and dramatic presence, but Mary Elizabeth Williams stole the show as Abigaillie, inhabiting with relish every clear, sensuous note. The staging will upset purists, but it’s a fabulous night at the opera.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant