Plácido Domingo Stars in a New Baritone Role as the Title King in Verdi's "Nabucco" on "Great Performances at the Met"

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03 May 2017
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Verdi's Nabucco
Courtesy of Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
"Great Performances at the Met: Verdi's Nabucco"
Sunday, May 7 at 12 p.m. on PBS
(Check your local listings)
 
          The legendary Plácido Domingo brings another new baritone role to the Met as the title king in “Nabucco,” under the baton of his longtime collaborator James Levine on Great Performances at the Met.

              Liudmyla Monastyrska is Abigaille, the warrior woman determined to rule empires, and Jamie Barton is the heroic Fenena. Russell Thomas is Ismaele, nephew to the King of Jerusalem and Dmitry Belosselskiy is the stentorian voice of the oppressed Hebrew people. Bass-baritone Eric Owens hosts the broadcast.

              The opera premiered at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1842. The success of Verdi's third opera, a stirring drama about the fall of ancient Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco), catapulted the 28-year-old composer to international fame. The music and Verdi himself were subsumed into a surge of patriotic fervor culminating in the foundation of the modern nation of Italy. Specifically, the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves ("Va, pensiero"), in which the Israelites express their longing for their homeland, came to stand for the country's aspirations for unity and that exciting era in Italian history, the Risorgimento, or "Resurgence."

 

              In a remarkable career spanning six decades in the theater, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today's repertoire. His role in Italy's cultural and political development has made him an icon in his native country.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 the characters other than the title role are dramatic inventions. But 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 first part takes place around the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C., with the remainder of the opera set in various locations in the city of Babylon.             

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