Nabucco (Macerata OFF Festival)
August 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
To finish off my trio of adventures with the Macerata Opera Festival (if you missed the post describing all of its awesomeness, click here!), last night was dedicated to Nabucco. I was very excited to go see it, especially after hearing some wonderful arias in Il trovatore and having Romeo and Juliet cancelled on me. It’s my father’s favorite opera, so I remember listening to dramatic daddy-daughter duets in the car and seeing some really amazing renditions of the famous slave chorus. I was ready to add to the list.
In addition, against my better judgement, Mr. Italian was accompanying me that night. Mr. Former Art Director at A Disco Club, whose idea of good music is horribly tacky 80’s music and club remixes, was going to go see his first opera. In other words, I had my fingers crossed that it would be a good production.
Pulling into Macerata, we were greeted by the sight of our familiar friend:
Unfortunately, we missed sunset from the top of the open-aired theatre, so, instead, we scrambled up the stairs to fight for rail room:
And then the lights dimmed and the set was uncovered: a 3D floorplan of Jerusalem made with plastic bottles and a golden yoga ball. A group of girls with guns ran out on the stage, soon to be joined by the Israelites wearing white-and-blue-picnic-blanket-esque ponchos and clogs. Pretty soon, the raised position became the standard for my eyebrow, as the most absurd collection of shiny robes, neon pink necklaces, and pillow cases strutted around the stage, frolicking inbetween the scenery of plastic squares and more yoga balls. At one point, we were even graced with a random horse appearing on stage for a whole five seconds, and then a vespa and hippie wagon zooming across:
Set and costume design aside, I found the entire opera devoid of emotion. Instead of a proud king falling in disgrace to his knees, begging for pity from his daughter, or a heartless queen collapsing in the arms of her angelic sister in a final act of redemption, I felt like I was watching a static dress rehearsal. I have to give credit to the vocals of the actors portraying Nabucco and Abigaille, but I still was not able to give much of an emotional response to the production.
From a critical perspective: the design, the costumes, the fact that the lighting didn’t change once, and the horrendeous incorporation of a projector completely distracted from the performance, which was weak in the first place. From my theatre-lovin’ perspective: it’s been a few years since I have last seen Nabucco, so I was happy to hear the music again. And be offered the opportunity to snicker continuously. And have a reason to lug Mr. Italian to another opera and prove to him that there actually is musical beauty outside of disco hits (with all due respect).
Though disappointed with the production, I still praise the atmosphere and idea of the Macerata Opera Festival and am looking forward to next year’s 50th anniversary season that features woman leads: L’opera è donna: Aida, Tosca, and La traviata.