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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Nabucco - opera in four parts (1842)
Nabucco – Renato Bruson (baritone); Ismaele – Fabio Armiliato (tenor); Zaccaria - Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass); Abigaille - Maria Guleghina (soprano); Fenena - Elena Zaremba (mezzo); Gran Sacerdote – Carol Stiuli (bass); Abdallo – Masatoshi Uehara (tenor); Anna – Taemi Kohama (soprano)
Tokyo Opera Singers; Tokyo Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Oren
rec. live, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, April 1998
synopsis but no texts included
NAÏVE V5158 [70:05 + 53:15] 


Experience Classicsonline

is an opera that always thrills me in the theatre, and usually also on disc. There is a ferocity in the music that takes hold of the listener, and it is no wonder that it was the composer’s first big success. It then suffered a period during which it was ignored, especially in Britain where it was not until 1952 that revivals in Scotland and Wales drew attention to its merits. Although the first complete studio version dates from 1951, recordings are now relatively common, including many live performances from Verona. Whilst it certainly benefits greatly from the kind of care that it gets, at least in part, in versions conducted by Muti and Gardelli, the opera usually remains worth hearing even in coarser performances. I had therefore expected to enjoy this version greatly, but was disappointed. 

I should say straightaway that it is by no means incompetent or without sections which do work well, but overall, for too much of the time, it seems generalized and lacking in the kind of commitment which is a prerequisite for the piece. As the recently revised published score shows, even at this stage in his career Verdi took care over dynamics and phrasing, but here all too often these are ignored. There is a lack of the kind of rhythmic definition and dynamic contrast which are necessary in any satisfactory performance. Admittedly this applies also to some of those live performances I mentioned earlier, but for the most part there remains in those cases sufficient dramatic drive to keep the listener involved. Here, although the efforts of Renato Bruson and Ferruccio Furlanetto do occasionally strike fire, the singers seem in general to be going through the motions rather than projecting the individuality of the situations and the characters. 

The orchestra and chorus are adequate as in general is Daniel Oren’s direction. The booklet has a useful historical note and a synopsis which would have benefited from being linked to the track numbers, but no information about the performers or the performance(s). It is stated to be live but no indication is given of whether it was a single performance or assembled from a series of performances. Nonetheless, it is hard to recommend this other than as a souvenir for anyone who was there.

John Sheppard


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