Review: Ellen Kent's production of Verdi's NABUCCO, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

While I've seen opera before, I've actually never sat down to review it before, but I'm excited that I at least have some opera experience under my belt for writing this review. The opera I saw this time around was Ellen Kent's UK tour of Verdi's classic opera Nabucco - one of my grandmother's favourites - so we went on down to the Aylesbury Waterside to find out what it's all about.

The story of Nabucco follows the chorus of the Hebrew slaves as they are forced into exile, away from their homeland, by the Babylonian King Nabucco. We follow Nabucco's rise to power and how his aggression and hatred leaves destruction in his wake, making jealousy and hatred lead behind him in all of the people he touches. While I normally find there isn't too much story behind an opera, this did remarkably feel like a story that kept flowing and didn't leave me feeling bored, perhaps something to put to the fact that the show is in three bite-size acts with two full-length intervals, but the running time of the entire show is still only three hours long.

In comparison to productions I've seen at the London Coliseum, the set design and effects of this production are absolutely fantastic, especially considering it's only a one-night show. Soloman's temple is a massive and impressive set piece and its ability to morph into several different locations is very much appreciated. The effects they put to it are fantastic as well with the burning of Soloman's Temple being a personal highlight, along with all of the other lighting design that is used.

There are two true stars of the show here though: the fantastic cast, who all have sublime voices, and the brilliant orchestra. Olga Perrier is the production's featured soprano who plays Abigail, with a gorgeously large and rich voice. Every time she came on stage to sing, I got excited to hear her rousing voice once again - it was incredible. The rest of the cast are equally fantastic as well and when the entire company sing together as a chorus, it's a force to be reckoned with.

In my eyes, the orchestra are second to none though. It was wonderful to see the Waterside open up its orchestra pit to accommodate for the larger orchestra that this show requires and the sound produced was absolutely beautiful. The opening performance of the very famous Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves absolutely blew me away and throughout the show, it was wonderful to hear these gorgeous and rich melodies by Verdi be performed by such a large and talented orchestra.

While it might seem unfashionable or uncool to go and see the opera when it comes to town, Ellen Kent's productions are a fantastic way to see a classic for a fraction of the price that you'd play for London. You're still getting the same kind of fantastic talent you'd get in a show charging you £100 a ticket and it's great to see for the opera fan community. And while it might seem like singing in a foreign language with surtitles is annoying if you haven't been to the opera before, trust me, it's all part of the fun.

Ellen Kent's production of Verdi's Nabucco continues on its tour through May 2017. You can get your tickets for other venues online now.

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