Los Angeles Review by Willard Manus

Placido Domingo and Liudmyla Monastyrska are lighting up the stage in Los Angeles Opera’s stirring revival of Verdi’s NABUCCO (through Nov. 19). Domingo, as the Assyrian king Nabucco, and Monastyrska as his war-like daughter Abigaille, have come to the Music Center fresh from their recent appearance at The Met in the same opera. Having been able to hone their performances, they sing and act with astonishing skill and passion, bringing new life to Verdi’s biblical tale of the Hebrew people’s struggle to free themselves from the oppressive rule of the Assyrians.

Photo: Ken Howard/LA Opera
Directed and designed by Thaddeus Strassberger in a co-production with Washington National Opera and Opera Philadelphia, this NABUCCO differs from L.A. Opera’s 2002 version, directed by Elijah Moshinsky and set in the 21st century. Strassberger opts for a more traditional interpretation: the time frame is the 19th century, the setting is La Scala, where that company is premiering Verdi’s third opera, NABUCCO. The opera-within-an opera conceit works reasonably well; all incongruous touches are forgotten when Verdi’s story kicks in and the singers take over, catching you up in their spell. Strongly backing up the lead singers are Morris Robinson as the Nubian prophet and Nancy Fabiola Herrera as Nabucco’s captive daughter, Fenena.

Photo: Ken Howard/LA Opera
James Conlon directed the orchestra with his usual flair and finesse; Grant Gershon’s chorus had many miraculous moments as well, particularly when delivering Verdi’s rallying cry for freedom and liberty, “Va, pensiero,” which later became Italy’s national anthem.
Los Angeles Opera Off-Grand will also mount, Nov. 9-12, PERSONA, an adaptation by composer Keeril Makan and librettist Jay Scheib of Ingmar Bergman’s famous film of the same name. The chamber opera will be performed at Redcat (Walt Disney Concert Hall).

For tickets and information call 213-972-8001 or visit