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‘Nabucco’ returns to Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House after 31 years

‘Nabucco’, one of Verdi's most famous works, returns to Barcelona on the 7th of October, 31 years after its last dramatised performance at the Liceu Barcelona Opera House. The opera will be conducted by Daniel Oren and stage directed by Daniele Abaddo. Baritone, Ambrogio Maestri will play the protagonist role, king of the Babylonians, and soprano Martina Serafin will play the lead female role of Abigaille. The play is a co-production between the Liceu, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan (where the opera premiered), the Covent Garden Royal Opera House in London and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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30 September 2015 04:35 PM

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ACN / Shobha Prabhu-Naik

Barcelona (CNA).- One of Verdi's most famous works, ‘Nabucco’, returns to Barcelona on the 7th of October, 31 years after its last dramatised performance at the Liceu Barcelona Opera House. The play is a co-production between the Liceu, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan (where the opera premiered), the Covent Garden Royal Opera House in London and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It will be conducted by Daniel Oren, stage directed by Daniele Abaddo and will see baritone singer Ambrogio Maestri in the role of protagonist, king of the Babylonians, and soprano Martina Serafin in the lead female role of Abigaille.


A stirring drama about ambition and power

Nabucco is a lyric drama set in a four-part libretto by Temistocle Solera and inspired by the play of the same title by Francis Cornue and Aguste Anicet-Bourgeois. It had its world premiere in 1842 at the ‘Teatro alla Scala’ in Milan and will return to Barcelona on the 7th of October, some 31 years after its last dramatized performance in Barcelona.  

Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, has invaded the kingdom of Judea. His daughter Fenena, who is in love with a Hebrew, wants to liberate his conquered people and clashes with her sister Abigaille. The latter betrays their father out of jealousy and seizes the throne. But then Nabucco is converted to the Jewish faith, recovers the throne and liberates the Hebrews.

In this version, stage director Daniele Abbado reinterprets the Babylonian oppression of the Hebrews by transporting the plot to the 20th century, during the brutal years of the Holocaust.

Victims of God

According to stage director Daniele Abbado, the audience will be able to see people dressed “simply”, in clothes from the 1930s, in order to allow them to understand when and where the drama is set. The opera begins in a cemetery, a sacred place of “memory and protection” he said and slowly moves towards the “truth” that takes the role of a desert represented by an empty stage. The aim is to establish the desert as “the place of exile, escape, with apparitions, in short, the place of truth”, he stated. It takes the audience on a journey “strewn with casualties” where ill fate passes from one character to another and even reaches Nabucco, who Abbado interprets as “a victim of God himself”.

“A Gift from Verdi”

Ambrogio Maestri, who plays the main character in the opera, stressed that 'Nabucco' features the first Baritone role written by Verdi, arranged to create a sense of “freedom” whilst simultaneously working with different tessituras and creating a “very acute” sound.

Soprano Martina Serafin, who plays the lead female role, Abigaille, pointed out that her role is “technically very difficult” but “wonderful” and that she is able to play a strong, determined, woman, something which has greatly helped her in interpreting the score. Abigaille wants to use her power to get revenge, something “doomed to failure”, according to Serafin, which results in her asking for God’s mercy. “It's a fantastic moment”, she said, “a gift from Verdi”.

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  • Daniele Abbado, stage director of 'Nabucco' on the right, soprano Martina Serafin and barítone Ambrogio Maestri on the left (by ACN)

  • Daniele Abbado, stage director of 'Nabucco' on the right, soprano Martina Serafin and barítone Ambrogio Maestri on the left (by ACN)