Verdi: Nabucco (in English)

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Nabucco (in English)
PERFORMER: Alan Opie, Leonardo Capalbo, Alastair Miles, Susan Patterson; Opera North Chorus & Orchestra/David Parry
Verdi’s third opera established some of the key characteristics of his work to come, combining direct vocal effects and prominent choruses in grandiose style. Its success represented a turning-point in the composer’s career and it still packs a mighty punch in the right performance. The strengths here lie in the secure choral singing and disciplined playing of the Opera North forces and in the conducting of David Parry, who shows a good understanding of how the score should go. The soloists form an effective group, even if vocally they can’t provide the Italianate cut and thrust ideally needed, which is not simply a matter of singing in the original language.


In the title-role, Alan Opie is respectable, though contained rather than commanding. Alastair Miles’s Zachariah has vigour and nobility, supplied in forthright tone. In the hugely taxing role of Abigail, Susan Patterson’s soprano is on the lighter side and she’s not absolutely secure, though she throws herself at the high-powered vocal writing, holding onto to one high note, incidentally, longer than the harmony requires.

In the secondary roles of Ismael and Fenena, Leonardo Capalbo’s soft-grained tenor again sounds overparted, though Jane Irwin is vocally brighter and particularly good with the text.


The sound on this recording has a good range but one can’t help feeling that overall there’s a need for more definition. No competition in English, but plenty in Italian, though the opera awaits an entirely satisfactory recording. Most recommendable is EMI’s set conducted by Riccardo Muti, with Renata Scotto as Abigaille, though Elena Obraztsova (Fenena), Matteo Manuguerra (Nabucco) and even Nicolai Ghiaurov (Zachariah) all to a degree disappoint. Geoorge Hall