Nabucco at the New Met

December 20th, 2016

Nabucco was Giuseppe Verdi’s first great success as an opera composer—but the Met waited 77 seasons to give the opera its house premiere. With Cornell MacNeil in the title role and Leonie Rysanek as Abigaille, Nabucco was performed 14 times in the company’s 1960-61 season, and then disappeared again for 40 years. Of the Met’s 57 performances of Nabucco prior to this season, 43 have been in the Lincoln Center house, with the current production. As he was at that production’s premiere in 2001, maestro James Levine is on the podium for all of this season’s performances. Excerpts from Nabucco began to figure prominently in concert and gala performances at the Met beginning in 1894, including the opera’s noble chorus of the Hebrew slaves, “Va, pensiero.” Levine even conducted the chorus himself in both the 1996 gala concert celebrating his 25th anniversary at the Met and the 2009 gala celebrating the company’s 125th anniversary (pictured). It is the only chorus ever granted the rare honor of an encore at the Met.