Double take of Nabucco over a weekend. Verdi, Nabucco, Royal Opera House.

This has been a decision questioned by everyone I know: what could be  a reason to attend two consequtive performances of “Nabucco” over one weekend? Love for Verdi masterpiece? Learning by heart any of lead roles? Or absolute obsession to gather as much as possible over short time span?

Probably each of those might have contributed to my choice to see Nabucco twice rather than explore Jenufa at ENO on the same evening. Also, part of the influence was super high demand for the first cast with Placido Domingo and Liudmila Monastyrska, as just in 30 minutes since general sales opening all tickets to my preferred dates were gone, and then I opted for second cast with Dimitri Platanias instead, hoping to discover new voice for me and still holding hope for a day ticket or standing place- thus also flight booked accordingly to arrive for day ticket que.

Getting to Covent Garden just 5 minutes before box office door opening at 10 and seeing long line of hopefuls, I made a resolution to stay for my choice, and it did pay off – the coveted ticket was in my hand just an hour later. So, both Domingo and Platanias for me then!

It is extremely difficult to compare both performances, as for me them seemed like two different stories with two main protagonists – I might label Domingo as royal Nabucco while Platanias delivered tribal Nabucco. Each of them told us their own story – Domingo vocally was surprisingly good and baritonal sounding, delivered with great confidence and gripping, electrifying stage presence. Platanias has a beautiful baritone, rich and sumptous, while his stage skills are somehow limited.

Both leading ladies did their  part extremely well, but also very different, and more difficult to label. If Monastyrska really dominated the story and obviously put Abigaille’s fight for power and dominance at the centerstage of the whole performance, then Melnychenko gave more intelligent approach, dramatically fulfilling themes of jelousy to Ismaele and Fenena, discovery and revenge of ancestral inheritance, and surrender to destiny. Monastyrska has a bit larger voice, and her top notes are earpiercing regardless of your seat in the audience, this vocal power is difficult to match.

Even if Fenena comes through as secondary role, I immensly enjoyed performance of Jamie Barton, especially in her key aria she was able to demonstrate her exceptional vocal talent and range.

 Very interesting discovery was Leonardo Capalbo as Ismaele, as well as outstanding performance of John Relyea as Zaccaria (especially on June 23 performance!).

 The production itself is a bit dull, grey and does not provide much opportunity for protagonists to demonstarte their acting abilities, as most of the scenes are built around “park and bark” concept, which served quite well Platanias, while Domingo did demonstrate extraordinary acting and stage presence even in those specific circumstances.

 Would I repeat similar experiment once more? Probably not, and it was not original intention anyway – in case of less luck with a day ticket it would have been Jenufa at ENO – which as I am reading is an outstanding show. Operatic summer just started, a lot of opportunities to explore ahead!

Nabucco. June 23rd, June 25th, 2016, The Royal Opera, London

Music Giuseppe Verdi, Libretto Temistocle Solera

Director Daniele Abbado, Associate director Boris Stetka, Designer Alison Chitty, Lighting designer Alessandro Carletti, Video designer Luca Scarzella, Movement Simona Bucci

Performed by The Royal Opera

Conductor Maurizio Benini

Nabucco Plácido Domingo (June 23), Dimitri Platanias (June 25)

Zaccaria John Relyea

Abigaille Liudmyla Monastyrska (June 23), Tatiana Melnychenko (June 25)

Ismaele Leonardo Capalbo

Fenena Jamie Barton

Anna Vlada Borovko

Abdallo Samuel Sakker

High Priest of Baal David Shipley

Chorus Royal Opera Chorus, Concert master Vasko Vassilev

Orchestra Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

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