This week, the Metropolitan Opera featured one in all its most dependable stars in back-to-back reveals: its refrain.
It simply so occurs that these performances have been each of works by Verdi — the Requiem on Wednesday, and “Nabucco” on Thursday — whose daring, catchy, intensely emotive choruses are almost a style unto themselves.
Each bit turns over giant swaths of music and its most dramatic moments to the refrain. And the Met’s delivered: Singing with energy and readability, the ensemble crammed the corporate’s imposing corridor with out sacrificing the graceful texture and depth of its sound. It was all a reminder of what Donald Palumbo, the refrain grasp since 2006, has achieved with these singers, and of the usual he’ll go away behind when he steps down on the finish of the season.
“Nabucco” and the Requiem have been written greater than three many years aside, each within the shadow of dying. After the failure of his second opera, “Un Giorno di Regno,” and the lack of his first spouse and youngsters, Verdi determined to compose once more when he learn the “Nabucco” libretto. It’s exhausting to not hear the title king’s weak plea for his daughter’s life (sung nobly on Wednesday by George Gagnidze) and consider what might need impressed it. And when the Italian novelist Alessandro Manzoni, whom Verdi referred to as “the best of our glories,” died, the composer couldn’t deliver himself to attend the funeral, however he set about composing the Requiem for the primary anniversary of Manzoni’s dying.
There’s little question that the Requiem is the superior piece, a mature masterpiece of startling efficiency and harrowing magnificence. However there are similarities: non secular materials that engages the soloists in determined prayer; the usage of a cappella writing in moments of humility; choruses that discover a sense of peace in unison singing; full-blown orchestral climaxes that throw into aid the fragility of chamber-style passages.
In each “Nabucco” and the Requiem, the Met refrain’s most ravishing moments got here in these unison passages, which current misleading difficulties for mix and synchronicity within the corridor’s delicate acoustic. Within the well-known “Va, pensiero” from “Nabucco,” the choristers, bathed in pale gold mild, sang with a pure, swelling sound and completed with a good looking diminuendo and an extended, fascinating ultimate word. Their awed sound introduced the Requiem’s “Agnus Dei” to touching life.
The mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and the soprano Leah Hawkins, soloists within the Requiem, admirably held collectively their very own uncovered singing within the “Agnus Dei,” however the 4 featured singers’ prolonged praises and supplications generally defaulted to generalities. One exception was the “Recordare” duet, wherein Cargill and Hawkins carefully collaborated as musical companions whereas providing distinct interpretations: Cargill, pitiful, prayerful, humbled; Hawkins, persuasive in recounting the fantastic thing about Jesus’ sacrifice.
Hawkins rose to the event of the work’s ultimate set piece, “Libera me,” with beautiful focus and a splendid excessive B flat. The tenor Matthew Polenzani alternated highly effective declarations along with his career-defining mushy singing, which generally petered out prematurely. Dmitry Belosselskiy, his tone brawny and sometimes hoarse, turned philosophical in his bass solos.
The “Dies irae” — a super part for the conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s more-is-more interpretive model — shook the chandeliers with cataclysmic quantity and thrilling momentum in its depiction of the Day of Judgment. Credit score, too, to the percussionist Gregory Zuber, who walloped his bass drum with such improbable power that he was momentarily airborne. Small moments shone too, from the translucent cello tone within the “Offertorium” and the mild divided flutes within the “Agnus Dei” to the pure hope of the solo oboe, Elaine Douvas, within the “Ingemisco.”
Elijah Moshinsky’s “Nabucco” manufacturing has an old-school, Nineteen Eighties throwback attraction, with its imposing, multiuse unit set that activates the Met’s revolving stage, despite the fact that it arrived on the firm in 2001. It harks again to a time when singers have been nearly solely chargeable for delivering the drama, and that’s what Gagnidze did: He formed Nabucco’s full character arc along with his baritone, from the sheeny resonance and dripping venom of a boastful king to the lengthy, stately traces of a penitent one.
Liudmyla Monastyrska, within the voice-wrecker of a soprano function that’s Abigaille, mined quiet moments for refined aptitude and bravely threw herself into the infinite parade of splashy excessive notes, energetic runs and vast leaps that induced her tone to start out coming aside on the seams. Belosselskiy, who returned as Zaccaria in “Nabucco,” sang attractively in “Vieni, o Levita.” SeokJong Baek, in his Met debut, had ardor to spare as Ismaele, and the mezzo-soprano Maria Barakova sang Fenena with vibrancy.
The conductor Daniele Callegari introduced richness, panache and stylistic cogency to “Nabucco,” displaying what’s doable when a maestro approaches this early rating with integrity. His ardour and focus confirmed in the way in which he mouthed the phrases for the soloists once they began to fall behind within the Act I finale.
Then the refrain entered in tempo, their tone agile but full, and the piece fell into place.