By the rivers of Babylon

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At the concert hall this Friday 25, grand spectacular at 8pm
At the concert hall this Friday 25, grand spectacular at 8pm

WITH the opera ‘Nabucco’ set where Saddam Hussein is from, ancient Babylon – south of Baghdad, it will be interesting to compare its 600BC politics with modern day Iraq.

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At the concert hall this Friday 25, following on from tonight Thursday 24′s ‘Aida’, producer Ellen Kent is mindful of how charged this “large scale, fast moving drama is set against the back drop of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem and burning of the Temple of Solomon. Its setting on fire is something we show on stage with pyrotechnics, the routing of Hebrew slaves akin to today’s ethnic cleansing.

“People interested in world affairs will draw comparisons between the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and Hussein”.

Kent has a point. That Verdi chose to depict the attempt to slaughter all Jews or exile them from their homeland, set to such stirring music and visual greatness creates “a very modern story”.

Everybody knows the beautiful and mighty ‘Va Pensiero’, Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, set on the banks of the River Euphrates as the captured are taken to be slaughtered.

Now 64 years-old and working with her core team (“a well honed group”, even the orchestra musicians are auditioned by her)  it has been a pleasure for Ellen Kent revive the 2007 production, seen at UCH. It’s one of her favourite operas.

With respect to her international soloists working with Chisniau National Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra, she is delighted that Olga Busuic is getting good notices in the UK press for her Abigaille, Nabucco’s  jealous elder daughter; also with Igor Macarenco as Ismaele, Valeriu Cojcaru as Zaccaria, high priest of the Jews and of course, Romanian Iurii Gisca as the insane Nabucco.

Sung in Italian and delivered in four acts, she promises full-scale sets with Syrian artefacts, a wall of flame and 80 strong cast of slaves and soldiers.