Nabucco is an opera that always thrills me in the theatre, and usually also
on disc. There is a ferocity in the music that takes hold of the
listener, and it is no wonder that it was the composer’s first
big success. It then suffered a period during which it was ignored,
especially in Britain where it was not until 1952 that revivals in Scotland and Wales drew attention to its merits. Although the first complete studio version
dates from 1951, recordings are now relatively common, including
many live performances from Verona.
Whilst it certainly benefits greatly from the kind of care that
it gets, at least in part, in versions conducted by Muti and Gardelli,
the opera usually remains worth hearing even in coarser performances.
I had therefore expected to enjoy this version greatly, but was
should say straightaway that it is by no means incompetent or
without sections which do work well, but overall, for too much
of the time, it seems generalized and lacking in the kind of
commitment which is a prerequisite for the piece. As the recently
revised published score shows, even at this stage in his career
Verdi took care over dynamics and phrasing, but here all too
often these are ignored. There is a lack of the kind of rhythmic
definition and dynamic contrast which are necessary in any satisfactory
performance. Admittedly this applies also to some of those live
performances I mentioned earlier, but for the most part there
remains in those cases sufficient dramatic drive to keep the
listener involved. Here, although the efforts of Renato Bruson
and Ferruccio Furlanetto do occasionally strike fire, the singers
seem in general to be going through the motions rather than
projecting the individuality of the situations and the characters.
orchestra and chorus are adequate as in general is Daniel Oren’s
direction. The booklet has a useful historical note and a synopsis
which would have benefited from being linked to the track numbers,
but no information about the performers or the performance(s).
It is stated to be live but no indication is given of whether
it was a single performance or assembled from a series of performances.
Nonetheless, it is hard to recommend this other than as a souvenir
for anyone who was there.