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Otello, Nabucco and Nabucco

PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:35 pm
by Barry
October 29th 2009 Teatro Regio Parma, Italy

Three operas in 36 hours, well with a twist. Otello was an hour long version inthis simply jaw dropping theatre, but performed in the stalls, with six performers operating huge puppets for an audience of children. a few arias and much leaping about and shrieking and laughing. It started with the stalls awash with blue silk as Otello's ship arrived and for Desdemona;s garden two enormous flowers sprouted among the seats. Very clever and the kids loved it. The next morning was an hour version of Nabucco, this time on stage with the full set and the principals played by understudies or chorus, with a paino, and twenty children as the chorus of Hebrew slaves, singing that chorus wonderfully. A rather manic narrator leapt about filling in the gaps but this was a good chunky bite sized piece of gran opera. I'm not sure we would do this in the UK, We would give kids opera about pigs and such, but not this was spectacle, lavish costumes, and Verdi in his theatre. And they loved it, as the performers clearly did, and as I did. It was also a good warm up for the evening. I, and Paolo, were guests of the minister of culture and of the theatre manager and in the best seat in the house, for me anyway. Only a few rows back from the orchestra and with leg room and a great view of every inch of the monumental set. An interesting production - huge. The truly epic set was suggestive of the wailing wall in Jerusalem (though I'm not sure patterns in the stone appear quite so regularly), that span, and open and let down staircases, and with very quick changes of lighting looked totally different. It was an interesting image, allowing for a convention of having the chorus as modern Jews witnessing a story that the walss must have witnessed. Does that make sense. the main characters were in period costume, but the chorus detached but watching. The stunning Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves was done motionless almost in silhouette with the chorus of nearly 80 in a tight group. Silence from the audience, apart from the man next to me who thought he was at a karaoke evening, but then this particular chorus is almsot the second Italian national anthem. Yes of course I have heard this score and this chorus so often, but suddenly I was hearing parts of the score I had not heard, all helped by Verdi's wonderful spacial tricks. An act one trio and a later sextette (?) were simply magnificent. The production did let the signers stand there and sing, or fall down as appropriate, and there really wasn't much acting other than large scale emoting, but that was fine for this piece. I don't think I have seen opera as grand as this, and to see it in Verdi's own theatre with portraits of him looking down everywhere was a thrill indeed. No of course I didn't grasp the story, and in the irony of my life at the moment, I may be sat as a guest in a wonderful opera house but I couldn't afford a programme. i will read up and work backwards. What I particularly enjoyed about the evening was that inspite of a sea of black dresses, and jewellry, it wasn't actually a very stuffy evening. the cast broke down the barrier at the end with a very informal curtain call and much laughing and waving, and running forward and teetering over the orchestra pit. There was a clear bond between the audience and the company.
ButI could feel just how important Verdi is to the city and its people, and they love it rather than resent it, or at least reluctantly accept it, as perhaps we do with Shakespeare.
A monumental evening which rather overwhelmed me, and after that I certainly wasn't fit for anything.