The Triumphant Return of Nabucco


Verdi, Nabucco: Soloists, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Carlo Rizzi (conductor), Civic Opera House, Chicago. 23.01.2016. (JLZ)

NABUCCO_IMG_5755_c.Andrew Cioffi

Chicago Lyric Opera’s Nabucco (c) Andrew Cioffi

Verdi, Nabucco


Nabucco: Željko Lučić
Abigaille: Tatiana Serjan
Zaccaria: Dmitry Belosselskiy
Fenena: Elizabeth DeShong
Ismaele: Sergey Skorokhodov
High Priest:  Stefan Szkafarowsky
Anna: Laura Wilde
Abdallo: Jesse Donner


Director: Matthew Ozawa
Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer: Jane Greenwood
Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler
Chorus Master: Michael Black
Conductor: Carlo Rizzi

After an absence of almost twenty years, Verdi’s Nabucco is back at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with a cast that makes this powerful score resonate incisively. Carlo Rizzi’s insightful conducting set the tone from the start, with a keenly shaped overture. He articulated the instrumental quotations of the opera’s vocal music with remarkable distinction. The prominent brass sonorities were warm and burnished, and the strings were richly resonant.

This opera has its challenges in presenting an epic story from the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem to the Assyrian court in Babylon, as the intrigues of the Bablyonian court undermine their own machinations to suppress and destroy the Jews in exile. But even with historic anachronisms and inaccuracies, the story is powered by some of Verdi’s most exquisite music.

The uniformly strong ensemble was anchored by Željko Lučić’s moving performance of the title role. He was particularly eloquent in the third-act scena with Abigaille (“Donna, chi sei?”) in which the deposed monarch confronts the usurper, and the stunned Nabucco attempts to assert his supremacy. Lučić gave full rein to the emotions in the opera’s concluding “Dio di Giuda.” If he seemed understated in the first act, he was clearly in full control and voice at the conclusion.

Tatiana Serjan made an authoritative Abigaille, one of Verdi’s most demanding roles. This young performer addressed the extremes of range, dynamics, articulations, and mood with the vitality the character requires. In the second-act scene, Serjan was astounding in the cavatina “Anch’io dischiuso de giorno,” followed by the cabaletta “Salgo dià dal trono aurato.” This was singing on the edge, her voice reaching the extremes of range with virtuosic accuracy. Sudden low pitches arrived with the same precision as very high ones, to the delight of the audience.

Dmitry Belosselskiy has similar panache as the prophet Zaccaria, etching the character powerfully with his rich, resonant bass. The lowest pitches essential in the first scene were as solid as the upper-range ones in the second-act prayer “Tu sol labbro.”

As the lovers Fenena and Ismaele, Ryan Center alumni Elizabeth DeShong and Sergey Skorokhodov effectively embodied their roles, especially in the trio “Io t’amavo!” (with Serjan). The clarity of musical lines and the enunciation of text was prominent. DeShong’s final-act aria “O, dischiuso è il firmament!” was a model of Verdian style. Increasing her intensity, DeShong brought out the florid passages to emphasize the aria’s concluding lines.

In addition to the principals, the chorus was notable for its tight ensemble, true pitch, and practiced articulation. The opening chorus “Gli arredi festivi” was persuasive for its rich sound and clear delivery. The famous “Va pensiero” was effortless, as was its complement, “Del futuro nel buio discerno.”

Rizzi’s masterful conducting gave the entire production a distinctive shape, with exemplary cohesiveness. A triumph of Verdi’s early career, Nabucco remains powerful, especially with the outstanding musicianship and stagecraft shown here. 

James L. Zychowicz

Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H