Great singing, weird costumes
John Cardenas | Ontario, CA United States | 10/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, here it is. The video that introduced Dimitrova to many in the wider operagoing public. She could sing Abigaille in her sleep, it seems, although the sound here does not appear to capture the extreme high notes well. They sound squealy and thin (compare this to the La Scala video of 5 years later where no such problem exists). Bruson is his usual strong self. "Dio ti guida" is especially compelling.
The video quality is subpar--unfocused and tending to dull everything out. The Dimitrova Turandot of two years later looks much better, and Dimitrova sounds better there too--the video producers must have learned a few things about taping in the Arena.
But, other than Dimitrova and Bruson, what this video will most likely be remembered for are the bizarre costumes, which make the cast look like Byzantine chess pieces with awkward pointy headdresses and bulky, shiny plastic armor in primary colors through which the singers spindly limbs protrude unprepossessingly. The tenor who sings Ismaele is made up to look particularly unflattering. And the female chorus members all have swami headdresses and broad-striped muu muu-looking garb. Maybe this all read well in the arena, but here it looks preternaturally odd and clunky. The La Scala Nabucco of 5 years later is infinitely more stylish and appealing (a Byzantine cobalt-blue dream landscape concocted by Maxfield Parrish--a novel choice for Nabucco, perhaps a visual antidote, smoothing out its crude vulgarity). If not the winner of the all-time ugliest opera production sweepstakes, then this 1981 Verona Nabucco is definitely a runner-up."