by Gaia Regoli
On June 20th, around seven thousand viewers came to see one of the greatest and most well-known works by Giuseppe Verdi, which was hosted in the Sultan’s Pool of Jerusalem. That’s it: after waiting for thousands of years, Nabucco finally returned to where he belongs. There could have been no better location, as Nabucco, also known as The Jewish Opera, portrays the destruction of the First Temple, in Jerusalem, by Nabucco king of Babylon. Besides, the Sultan’s Pool is an important historical venue, dated back to the time of Herod, which also offers an amazing view, as it is attached to the walls of the Old City.
The opera was sung in Italian by the talented Israeli Opera Chorus and accompanied by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Two hours of history that, despite the absence of intermission between the acts, were not tiring at all, but rather surrounded the public with special vibes, bringing Verdi’s masterpiece back to life. The actors tried to communicate with the audience not only by performing on stage, but also by walking next to the public’s seats. For example, when Nabucco revealed himself for the first time, two lines of soldiers were holding torches while standing in the middle of the people. For what concerns the scenography, it was minimalistic (a huge stair-like structure) but it served its purpose quite well as it could be rotated and was used in several ways during the piece.
Towards the end of the opera, everybody was enchanted by the peak of the evening: a group of Jewish slaves, prisoners of Babylon, intonated the Va Pensiero, the most famous choir of Nabucco and probably among the most well-known pieces in all history of music. Unsurprisingly, more than half of the audience joined the actors and started singing along. Even though this may sound a bit clique and stereotypical, it created a symbolical atmosphere. It could be read as one of the special occasions in which music acts as a hopeful meeting point for different people, belonging to different classes, religions and cultures. Therefore, this is an additional reason why I believe that hosting Nabucco in Jerusalem was a wonderful choice, being Jerusalem a city which is inhabited by three main religions, i.e. Jews, Arabs and Christians, who share issues of coexistence on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, it is quite hard for me to express in words the amazing experience I had on June 20th. The more I think about it and the more speechless I get. Once again, simply stunning.