Top positive review
4.5 stars: really good, second only to Gobbi
on 4 August 2014
"Nabucco" has been lucky on record -- the best is still the remarkable Gobbi/Souliotis/ Gardelli account on Decca, from 1965. This one, which I would award 4.5 stars, runs it close. Gobbi is that bit more incisive and distinctive than Manuguerra on this recording -- but there's isn't much in it. The young Souliotis, in her one indisputably great assumption, has the security as Abigaille that the mature Scotto can't quite match -- but Scotto is much stronger in the role than I expected, given that she started out as a Gilda and Lucia! And like Gardelli, Muti understands the crude energy of this music, and he gives it its head. In some respects, I prefer this recording -- the Fenena (Obratsova) is more positive, and Luchetti is more forceful than Prevedi, and I think Act 3 Scene 2 -- the "Va pensiero" scene, followed by Zachariah's invocation -- receives its strongest performance on record in this account, with Ghiaurov singing wonderfully, with warm tone and an excellent line, and the Chorus full-bodied. In the preceding scene -- the great confrontation between Abigaille and Nabucco, ending with the "Deh, perdona" duet -- Gobbi and Souliotis have the edge. Overall the Decca sound is sweeter and the balances in the ensembles perhaps better judged. But make no mistake -- this is a great account, and there's something very special about the way that Scotto gives herself to the role of Abigaille. It's Callas-like, and there's no higher praise than that. And, overall, Act 3 -- one of Verdi's greatest inspirations, to my mind -- gets justice done to it here.
The other considerable recording is Sinopoli's, with Cappuccilli and Dimitrova. Cappuccilli sings Nabucco with great beauty and long-breathed lines, but with less dramatic force. Dimitrova is less distinctive than Scotto, but very good nonetheless, Domingo is Ismaele -- not superior to Luchetti -- and Nesterenko is a fine Zachariah. Sinopoli's conducting sounds lovely, but is maybe a tad too refined for this opera. Still, Verdi lovers should have all three.