‘Nabucco’ debuted at Detroit Opera House

By Phyllis
Giuseppe Verdi’s’ “Nabucco,” made its Michigan Opera Theater debut Oct. 17.  MOT opened its 39th opera season entitled “Loves and Lies,” with Verdi’s exotic story of Biblical salvation.

            From the opulent costumes, designed by Anubal Lapiz, to the magnificent scores delivered under the shinning baton of conductor Steven Mercurio, the opener held  imagination hostage.

            The lengthy, brilliantly sung four act Biblical love triangle opened with a powerful chorus work. Under the direction of chorus master Suzanne Mallare Acton, the libretto, delivered, in Italian with English supertitles easily read above the stage were equally heartfelt.  “Nabucco” launched not only Detroit’s Opera’s 2009-10 season, but Verdi’s career as well. Verdi sympathized with the story of the Hebrew slaves and their desire for freedom. This opera chained Verdi to success.

            The irony of the mutual suffering endured by both the Hebrew slaves as well as Verdi in his personal life resonated in the powerful scores and lent itself to the notion of synchronicity that held Verdi to task. The concept of synchronicity reminds us that nothing happens without reason.  That the impossibility of what we know as the “phenomena of coincident” should not exist. Thus when coincident does occurs, it is really a suitable message — reminder from world central.

            So why is this relevant?  When one looks at all the events that shaped Verdi’s, one thing seems clear: Verdi was slaved to write this poignant opera.  

            Verdi’s own life, bounded by tragedy, sets a backdrop for his understanding of the anguish.  It began when Verdi was just a young child, Russian soldiers annihilated his town. Verdi’s mom saved both of them, by hiding in a bell tower.

            Growing up, he earned next to nothing as an organist. He was discarded by the Milan Conservatory as being “insufficiently talented.”  When Verdi was 23, he married his childhood sweetheart.  The pair had two kids, both of whom died, and then three months later his wife died herself.  Verdi was shattered.

            “Coincidently,” his friend Bartolomeo Merelli happened to be the producer at one of the most famous opera houses in the world, La Scala in Milan. Merelli begged Verdi to write. Verdi was sustained by Merelli’s empathy, and perhaps the need to translate the tragedies of his life to music. 

            Verdi’s life, gave rise to his empathetic resolve to the Biblical story, artfully set in the 6th century B.C. Jerusalem and Babylon. The powerful scenes, designed by Robert Oswald unleashed a unique preponderance of time.  The strong sets were the perfect backdrop to this ancient story.

            The four acts were laden with revenge, unanswered love and great courage.  A treacherous love triangle between the tyrannical King Nabucco’s (Marco di Felice, baritone) two daughters,   Abigaille (Francesca Patane, soprano) and Fenena (Carla Dirlikov, mezzo-soprano), and nephew of the King of Jerusalem, Ismaele (Noah Stewart, tenor), generated a series of disastrous events that included spiritual atonement and fatal deception.  “Nabucco” delivered a heavy plot; fortunately, the dynamic vocals of these charismatic characters unchained poetic justice and freed the creative nature for the new season.

            “A Little Night Music” a Broadway musical starring Leslie Uggams and Ron Raines, makes its way to the Opera House Nov. 14 to 22. Tickets range from $29 to $121, and may be purchased in person at the box office, 1526 Broadway; by calling (313) 237-SING; or online at www.MichiganOpera.org.

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