Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Plácido Domingo in Nabucco at Carib 5 tomorrow

Published:Friday | January 6, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Liudmyla Monastryska (left) as Abigaille and Plácido Domingo in the title role of Verdi's 'Nabucco'.
The grandeur of the ancient city of Babylon is depicted in this scene from Verdi's 'Nabucco'.

Verdi's third opera, a stirring drama about the fall of ancient Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco) and the Hebrews' subsequent exile in Babylon, was a spectacular hit at its premiere in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala in 1842.

Tomorrow, Saturday, January 7, in the Met Opera's Live in HD transmission direct from New York, the matinee performance will be transmitted at 12:55 p.m. worldwide as part of the 11th season of the Met's Live in HD series, which now reaches more than 2,000 cinemas in 70 countries around the world, including Jamaica.

Met music director emeritus James Levine conducts the renowned Pl·cido Domingo in a new Met role the title king in Verdi's Nabucco. The opera also stars Liudmyla Monastyrska, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas and Dmitry Belosselskiy in Elijah Moshinsky's production. The libretto, written by Temistocle Solera, is based on the play Nabuchodonosor by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu.

The story of Nabucco's premiere is famous: Following the death of his first wife and the disastrous reception of his previous work, the comedy Un Giorno di Regno, a disillusioned Verdi had decided to quit composing. He is said to have changed his mind when he saw the text written by Temistocle Solera for Nabucco. Inspired, he set to work and created an opera that would become a sensation and launch his career.

The music and composer were subsumed into a surge of patriotic fervour, culminating in the foundation of the modern nation of Italy. Specifically, the chorus of the Hebrew slaves in Act II (Va pensiero), in which the Israelites express their longing for their homeland, was singled out as the nexus of Verdi's art and the country's aspirations for unity.

In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theatre, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today's repertoire. Temistocle Solera (1815-1878) was a professional librettist and, early in his career, a composer of moderate success. He also provided Verdi with the librettos for his first opera, Oberto, and the subsequent I Lombardi, Giovanna d'Arco and Attila.

Solera's libretto takes some liberties with biblical history and all of the characters other than the title role are dramatic inventions. Still, the story as a whole stays close to events as they are related in Jewish Scriptures, primarily Jeremiah, as well as 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Daniel and the Psalms (the words to 'Va pensiero' are a paraphrase of Psalm 137, "By the waters of Babylon").

The first act takes place around the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem in

586 BC, with the remainder of the opera set in various locations in the city of Babylon.

Nabucco did not appear at the Met until a production by Gunther Rennert opened the 1960-61 season. Thomas Schippers conducted Cornell MacNeil, Leonie Rysanek and Cesare Siepi in the leading roles. Despite a popularity surge at the time in what were then the lesser-known works of Verdi (with Macbeth receiving its Met premiere in 1959 and Ernani and Simon Boccanegra returning in new productions around the same time), Nabucco again fell from the repertory for several more decades.

The current production by Elijah Moshinsky is only the second in Met history. It was unveiled in 2001, with James Levine conducting a cast led by Juan Pons, Maria Guleghina, and Samuel Ramey.

Tickets are available at Carib 5's box office or online at with a Palace Card or any major credit card.