ROME (Mar. 15)
Opera director Vittorio Rossi expressed dismay over the cancellation of his production of Verdi’s “Nabucco,” which was to have been a centerpiece of Israel’s 40th anniversary celebrations in Jerusalem from May 15 to 29.
“But many feel that ‘Nabucco,’ in this situation, might have played a disruptive role, because of its message of liberty, and some fear that what they call unpleasant incidents could have happened,” Rossi said in an interview published Tuesday in the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The situation he referred to was the ongoing strife in the Israeli-administered West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli government canceled the performances, citing financial, organizational and artistic difficulties. But speculation is rife that the unrest in the territories and mounting tension were the decisive factors.
Box office sales have dropped and reservations have been canceled. Opera On Original Site Inc. a Geneva-based company that stages operas on the sites where their stories take place, blamed abandonment of the $11.5 million production on the cancellation by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of a concert tour in Israel in honor of its 40th anniversary.
The London-based orchestra was to have performed “Nabucco” and provided the choral climax, the immortal “March of the Hebrew Slaves,” sung in Hebrew by a British choir of several hundred. But it announced March 10 that it was pulling out, ostensibly because of contractual differences with its musicians.
Michael Ecker, president of Opera On Original Site, is suing the Royal Philharmonic for breach of contract. “The last minute cancellation leaves no choice in the matter of replacing them with another world class orchestra.” he said.
“Nabucco” tells the story of Jews being carried off to slavery in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar 2,500 years ago.