Monday, February 18, 2013

Nabucco - Giuseppe Verdi

José, a friend of mine offered me a ticket to the opera, one of the best seats in the house, since she fell ill. Not being well versed in classical music I decided to go and listen to the introduction the opera gives before the performances. I learned this opera is written in a new and revolutionary way: working in dialogs between voices, between instruments, between soloists and choir and the orchestra and the singers. Also that the dramatic action is driven by the characters who define the plot. The first tones of the orchestra pulled at my heartstrings, moved me, but still I didn't fathom the ride I would be on. The performance by the Symphonic Orchestra and Choir of the Flemish Opera, the instruments and voices enchanted me. The British director however deserves my greatest praise: Daniel Slater. He used the libretto and the opera with a totally contemporary eye: no costumes, but contemporary iconic clothing referring to the Arab spring, the Occupy movement, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the golden calf in Wall street, power and religion.
The opening scene the choir is seated among graffiti-sprayed walls listening to Zaccaria their backs turned to the audience, occupy masks on the back of their heads, tents like I have seen in several cities. Zaccaria is a rebel rouser and we see how the group responds, takes over his defiant attitude. Verdi in the 21st century. The choir eloquently, beautifully speaks out against persecution. I became part of the thoughts and feelings, had tears running along my cheeks. To me this contemporary direction by Slater is a voyage through war and conflict, power hunger, subjection and liberation and the possibility of forgiveness, peaceful futures for all. The 'bad Character' Abigaille sang with reckless abandon, grabbing the crown when Nabucco is overcome by madness, his singing in those moments faltering, inward turned, whereas his finale having chased Abigaille and the golden calf of Babylon having been destroyed, was powerful. To my untrained ear all did a great job, the choir however stole my heart. I absolutely loved the very last gesture: Nabucco with the flick of a hand not accepting the crown... A long applause and bravo!!! After all the old testament violence, we leave the opera with hope. Hope that Occupy and other peaceful movements will build a new sense of community.

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