When: Sat., Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m., Sun., Jan. 31, 2 p.m., Wed., Feb. 3, 2 p.m., Sat., Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m., Tue., Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m. and Fri., Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m. 2016
A biblical melodrama with a lilting 19th-century soundtrack, Nabucco was the breakthrough opera for Giuseppe Verdi when it premiered at La Scala in 1842. Lyric Opera has offered it only twice before, because, according to general director Anthony Freud, it’s a devil to cast, with three very difficult lead roles. They’ve all been mastered in this production, which features a solid Lyric debut by bass Dmitry Belosselskiy as the Hebrew prophet Zaccaria. Compelling soprano Tatiana Serjan scales double-octave slides and is fully convincing as the villainous Assyrian princess Abigaille, while baritone Zeljko Lucic builds from a suppressed start to deeply moving final scenes in the title role of her father, King Nebuchadnezzar. The story of Jews fighting for Israel is less exotic today than it was in Verdi’s time, when it resonated as a call for Italian unification. From duets and trios to full choral pieces (including the familiar “Va, pensiero”), the ensemble singing is glorious. Carlo Rizzi conducts the Lyric orchestra.