Producer gets bird at ROH

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The producer of a new staging of Verdi's Nabucco was booed and catcalled by a Royal Opera House audience last night.

Tim Albery's interpretation had earlier so disturbed the conductor Sir Edward Downes that he withdrew declaring he was "out of sympathy" with the production. A loud section of last night's Covent Garden audience showed they agreed.

The opera retells the biblical story of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco) who sacked Jerusalem in the sixth century BC, carried the Hebrews into exile, and was struck mad by God before recovering and allowing the Hebrews to return. Albery's stark settings evoked images of the Holocaust. He dressed the Hebrew men in the garb of early 20th century orthodox mid- European Jewry and the women in off-the-shoulder ballgowns. The king and his soldiers wore combat fatigues with pistols and machine guns.

Nabucco is scheduled for six more performances this month and will be staged at the Covent Garden Verdi Festival.