Monday, August 17, 2015

Praise for Nabucco

Mary Elizabeth Williams as Abigaille in Seattle Opera's Nabucco. Philip Newton photo
"Mary Elizabeth Williams emerged as the star of the evening, delivering a theatrically vivid and thrillingly sung performance of the power-hungry, jilted Abigaille. With her untiring and excitingly huge voice, Williams showed remarkably even strength in the registral extremes on which the part notoriously relies. Her dynamic control was similarly admirable. Phrasing with imagination throughout, in her solo in Part Two she hinted at a dimension of inner turmoil, mitigating Abigaille's imperious demeanour with moments that suggested self-doubt." - Bachtrack 

Gordon Hawkins as Nabucco. Philip Newton photo
"But few people attend opera for the plot; it’s the music and the musicians that make the difference. Here is where Seattle Opera’s “Nabucco” shines, with Carlos Montanaro presiding over an orchestra and cast that are almost uniformly excellent...Since 'Nabucco' apparently comes around only slightly more often than Halley’s comet, Seattle-area opera lovers should seize this chance to check out some early Verdi — and some remarkable voices." The Seattle Times 

"Hawkins gave a marvelous performance as Nabucco, a boisterous man initially all puffed up with his victories until he addled by a force beyond his comprehension. To heighten the sense of someone brought to his knees, Hawkins lowered his voice to a shudder and convincingly found the emotion of a man who was on the brink of destruction." Northwest Reverb 

".... (Hawkins) gave a memorable performance, particularly as a weakened fuzzy-minded old man. Young mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Fenena, new here, has a truly beautiful voice with depth and nuance. She will surely be back, while tenor Russell Thomas, another Young Artist graduate, singing Ismaele, is another it will be a pleasure to hear again. In short, every voice was a joy to hear." 

Christian Van Horn as Zaccaria with the Seattle Opera Chorus. Philip Newton photo
"As the Jews’ High Priest, Christian Van Horn lived up to his reputation as a noteworthy young bass. He had a reassuringly imposing resonance, edged with warmth that made us want to follow his Zaccaria anywhere." 

"The (Nabucco) plot fits together like a blooper reel. Over the course of the four head-spinningly fast 'parts' (such weirdly shaped chunks of drama they’re not even referred to as “acts”) the following events occur:
• Jerusalem is sacked.
• The Temple of Solomon is trashed
• The throne is usurped
• A pair of princesses fall for the same guy (who happens to be the enemy).
• One princess finds out she’s actually a slave.
• Two people are killed—but not really because it’s just a rumor so they come back to life.
• Somebody offs herself with poison.
• An idol crumbles literally.
• The terrarium-like Hanging Gardens of Babylondescend to earth.
• Guys march around with antler-headed Gandalf staffs and debate whose god is better than whose and somebody badmouths god and—BOOM!—he’s struck by lightning, which doesn’t kill him but turns him for a while into a madman." 

Weston Hurt, Nabucco and Jamie Barton, Fenena. Elise Bakketun photo
"I enthusiastically recommend this production of “Nabucco” for its brilliant staging and musicality. Seattle Opera succeeds in giving this early and rarely performed Verdi piece the stylistic edge it needs to draw a wide audience and infuse a sense of freshness into this classic Italian opera, while maintaining its political grit and the religious, metaphysical themes present throughout." -  The UW Daily

"Conductor Carlo Montanaro paced the orchestra expertly and brought out textures that worked well with the singers. Superb playing by principal cellist Eric Han and principal flutist Alexander Lipay added marvelously to the production, and the offstage banda (chamber ensemble) also contributed splendidly." - Northwest Reverb 

Raffaella Angeletti as Abigaille. Elise Bakketun photo
"Abigaille­ is a hugely demanding role vocally and emotionally, and Raffaella Angeletti sang a gorgeous Abigaille on Sunday, fire and rage in her soaring high notes, determination and fury in her chesty, low passages. Weston Hurt delivered an authoritative, thundering Nabucco, and the chorus sounded phenomenal, luscious and full of longing, on "Va' pensiero" (The chorus of the Hebrew slaves), the opera's most famous melody." - City Arts 

Nabucco plays now through Saturday, August 22 at McCaw Hall. For tickets and information, go to and join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #SONabucco. 

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