‘Nabucco’ returns to the Teatro Real in Madrid 150 years later

‘Nabucco’, by Verdi, returns to Madrid this Tuesday. This will be the last opera of the 2021-2022 season which will host the Teatro Real. This is a new production together with the Zurich Opera, with musical direction by Nicola Luisotti and staging by Andreas Homoki.

The work returns 151 years after its last performance in the city. “There are things that cannot be understood and this is one of them. ‘Nabucco’ is a very popular work, especially ‘Va pensiero’, but you have to show things and make an effort. It will be very popular, but it was time bring her and this lap looks a lot like a novelty“, has indicated in the presentation the artistic director, Joan Matabosch.

This Verdi work arrived in Spain in 1844. Its first stop was Barcelona and then Madrid. It was practically done indispensable in the repertoires of Spanish theaters. Since its inauguration in 1850, the Teatro Real has been closely linked to this piece. In the acoustic tests before its start-up, the prelude to ‘Nabucco’ was used.

The functions of ‘Nabucco’ will take place between July 5 and 22, with a total of fifteen performances. Nicola Luisotti will conduct her seventh Verdi title at the head of the Teatro Real Headline Choir and Orchestra.

Three casts will alternate in the interpretation of the leading roles: Nabucco, the baritones Luca Salsi, George Gagnidze, Gabriele Viviani and Luis Cansino; Abigaille, the sopranos Anna Pirozzi, Saioa Hernández and Oksana Dyka; Ismaele, the tenors Michael Fabiano and Eduardo Aladrén; Fenena, the mezzo-sopranos Silvia Tro Santafé, Elena Maximova and Aya Wakizono; Zaccaria, basses Dmitry Belosselskiy, Roberto Tagliavini and Alexander Vinogradov; and El Gran Sacerdote, the basses Simon Lim and Felipe Bou.

The people as protagonist

‘Nabucco’ has always been considered the first opera that has “the people as the protagonist”. “It is one of the great examples of how the autocratic system uses oppression when its power decreases: it is something that we have been able to see these days in Ukraine,” Andreas Homoki remarked.

In the original text, the Hebrew people are enslaved by Babylon, a situation that Verdi’s own Italy “saw as a mirror” of its relations with the Austro-Hungarians. In fact, Homoki has decided move the scenery to the 19th centuryas a “struggle between the European aristocratic tradition and the revolutionary liberal movement”.

This work has turned Verdi into a composer loved by the Italian population. “When Verdi orchestrated ‘Nabucco’ he did not know that he was going to become a national hero”, explained Nicola Luisotti. He has also recalled how the musician only had twelve days from the first rehearsal to the premiere to start the opera. Verdi changed the orchestration for the moment, using more trumpets and trombones to “give greater force”.

It also has a family conflict. The king of Babylon, with power in decline, has two daughters. One of them will join “the enemies of the system” in acknowledging that fall, while the other is “incapable of accepting the end of the traditional system.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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