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Mark Rucker as Nabucco [Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Opera]
24 Jan 2011

Nabucco, Palm Beach Opera

Appearing on Palm Beach Opera’s website video player General Director Daniel Biaggi points out among the reasons to attend the first show of the company’s 2010-2011 season, “fantastic artists whose voices will blow you away.”

Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco

Nabucco: Mark Rucker (12/10 & 12/12) / Sebastian Catana (12/11 & 12/13); Abigaille: Paoletta Marrocu (12/10 & 12/12) / Csilla Boross (12/11 & 12/13) ; Zaccaria: Dmitry Belosselskiy; Fenena: Laura Vlasak Nolen; Ismaele: Adam Diegel; High Priest of Baal: Harold Wilson; Abdallo: Evanivaldo Correa Serrano. Conductor: Bruno Aprea. Director: Guy Montavon. Set: Opéra de Montréal. Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Above: Mark Rucker as Nabucco

All photos courtesy of Palm Beach Opera


Biaggi’s claim is no folderol; each principal in PBO’s Nabucco (seen opening night December 10) offered a performance of individual value, with the balance of the night’s success tipping aptly on Mark Rucker’s Nabucco and on the playing of the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra with principal conductor and artistic director Bruno Aprea on the podium.

Mark Rucker presented fluent Verdi style, adding — of late — further finesse to a cantabile line that already made him a notable exponent of the style and period. The power-addled king’s delusions of Acts II and III were conveyed in Rucker’s singing — fashioned with portamento and diminuendos; he hit his stride vocally and dramatically with a ‘Dio di Giuda’ both meditative and conciliatory. This night’s Abigaille, Paoletta Marrocu, in her moments on vocal spotlight made most of an impression with an often rich middle register — mellifluously delivered in the more lyrical passages of ‘Anch'io dischiuso un giorno.’ In between some hard, go-for-broke, high notes and her seemingly unabashed use of discernible register breaks for dramatic effect, Ms. Marrocu spun accurately articulated scales and rapped out the text with biting authority.

Showing off an even bel canto line — that touched the F sharp in his cabaletta — and a sizable, fleet instrument was bass Dmitry Belosselskliy (Zaccaria). Laura Vlasak Nolen (Fenena) displayed fine stage sense in the final act prayer, where she and Aprea collaborated with Verdian strokes of refined rubato. Adam Diegel owns a large instrument with lyric attributes that made short work of Ismaele’s lines. As the High Priest of Baal, Harold Wilson brought a knowing gait and a fine bass. Palm Beach Young Artists Evanivaldo Correa and Alison Bates did right by the roles of Abdallo and Anna.

Grave majesty was missing from the opening of Nabucco’s overture; once to the livelier section though, the playing of the orchestra turned altogether superlative. Aprea’s conducting strikes as being attentive and open to various facets of artistic nuance. In the overture, there was a cohesive vitality that held through bouncy and bold and light and lyrical passages with well-executed string and woodwind playing. Verdi’s markings were honored to the end; and, in the manner of, Aprea was keen to push on or allow singers rhythmic room as necessary. Both the orchestra and the Palm Beach Opera Chorus reached a level of musical gravitas in ‘Immenso Jeovha.’

PaolettaMarrocu.gifPaoletta Marrocu as Abigaille

Stage director Guy Montavon and chorus were doubtless challenged by set pieces (credit given to Opera de Montreal) with compact stage space. Though conceptually beautiful, the Temple — swept in purifying soft shades of blue, a motif for the sets — seemed randomly besieged by congregants. To Montavon’s credit, the varying presence of Doric columns on a stage-wide platform with stairs leading to two landings left little room downstage and only a few feet from the pit to work with. Of “special mention” quality is the lighting of David Gano — faintly fading across wide gulfs of the color spectrum is analogous to mystifying and winding dramaturgical currents in Act II.

Robert Carreras

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