Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Giuseppe Verdi, Nabucco - Tiroler Festspiele Erl, Festspielhaus

Revival premiere performance 27th December

As final part of this year's christmas opera marathon I went to see Nabucco at the Erl festival. The early Verdi opera features one hit after another and every role is very demanding. Especially the roles of Nabucco and Abigaile who are kind of the central characters of the plot.
The production of Andreas Leisner is, as usual for the festival, very plain and puristic. The staging of Jan Hax Halama show a simple ramp and some sort of staircase. Together with the light effects (Gustav Kuhn & Alexander Paget) it supports the plot appropriately and helps to create atmosphere. The costumes (Lenka Radecky) were long garments in different colors for the soloists and also the choir (depending on their ethnicity).
Gustav Kuhn conducted the piece excellently and created a very balanced sound with great knowledge of the pitfalls of the score. The Orchester der Tiroler Festspiele Erl followed his lead very elegantly with great accuracy and joy of playing. The brilliant sound of the orchestra was really impressive and showed great musicality. Also the Chorakademie der Tiroler Festspiele Erl did a wonderful job and performed some lovely balanced choir scenes with great dramatic sense.
The supporting roles of the Gran Sacerdote, Abdallo and Anna were performed by Nicola Ziccardi, Patrizio Saudelli and Maria Lopalco. All three of them did a good job in their roles. Especially Lopalco made quite an impression even though her role is not really such a great deal.
George Vincent Humphrey sang a very heroic Ismaele, almost too heroic for my taste. As good as he might sound as Siegfried or similar roles, he was too heavy for this role. I would have preferred a lighter voice that is more agile and has a more youthful sound. Anyway his performance was still not bad at all. Just a matter of taste.
Svetlana Kotina's Fenena was very strong with a beautiful warm timbre and quite some power throughout her range. Her lower register sounds wide and pleasant while her upper register has a more dramatic sound. I personally think that the role of Fenena is quite boring and Kotina would have earned a bigger role than that one.
As Zaccaria we heard Franz Hawlata who still has the voice for demanding roles like that. His bass voice has a very warm and pleasant lower register with a velvet like timbre. Even though he lacked a bit of real italianità he did a very good job, especially during his prayer in the second act.
My personal highlight of the evening was Sophie Gordeladze as Abigaile. I knew Gordeladze from the last new year's concert in Salzburg and I thought her voice would be too light for this heavy role. How wrong I was!! It is incredible how intensively her voice broke through the heaviest orchestral passages and still kept the light sound and agility of a light soprano. Not matter in which register she sang she was able to put so much power and focus on every single not that I was deeply impressed. Her famous cabaletta in the second act was sung magnificently even though I missed the climatic high c.
Giulio Boschetti sang a powerful and heroic Nabucco with a very heavy and imperious voice. His appearance and the sheer power of his voice suited the role of the king marvelously. Especially his first appearance was solemn and dominating with great dramatic singing.
The Erl festival proved once again that it can compete with other festivals around. Great singing and straightforward productions with great impressions are definitely characteristics of the festival in the Austrian village of Erl. The production of Nabucco definitely earns 9 stars and is worth a visit.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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