Reviews

Verdi’s Nabucco at LA Opera

October 14 - November 19, 2017

“Conlon is one of the best for energetic, militant early Verdi, and he got his orchestra to slash away exuberantly while also taking care to support his singers comfortably in more intimate moments. He also opted for a variant ending — where a moving a cappella chorus came after Abigialle’s death scene instead of before — which I found more effective.”

Los Angeles Times
Richard S. Ginell
October 16, 2017
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“Conductor James Conlon’s contribution cannot be overstated, and the chorus, orchestra and soloists together created an emotional charge that ignited the audience.”

Seen and Heard International
Jane Rosenberg
October 16, 2017
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“Nabucco conductor James Conlon and the L.A. Opera Orchestra kept the music lively, with huge contrasts between the score’s sections of stately restraint and its booms and crashes. The brass and percussion stayed crisp throughout their quick portions.”

San Francisco Classical Voice
Ilana Walder-Biesanz
October 17, 2017
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“Conlon and the LA Opera Orchestra were superb”

Living Out Loud L.A.
Humberto Capiro
October 17, 2017
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“In his second decade as Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera, Maestro James Conlon has become synonymous with the company’s artistic successes. An aficionado of “Nabucco”, he elicited an intense and dramatic performance from the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra.

“Having embarked on the mission of promoting any opera he conducts through pre-performance lectures, Conlon has become a Los Angeles institution. The popularity of his lectures continues to grow, assuring that a large part of any Conlon performance’s audience will arrive an hour before the scheduled curtain time.”

Opera Warhorses
October 16, 2017
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“Next there is the propulsive and vital conducting of James Conlon, a maestro who really knows his Verdi. Under his direction the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra brings out colors and ornamental details a listener may have never noticed before in the score. The sounds from the pit become a vibrant driving force. Although the music may be “early Verdi” and rather crude by the standards of the composer’s later work, all such thoughts are abandoned with Conlon in control.”

Opera West
David Gregson
November 3, 2017
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“Conductor James Conlon has paid the ultimate respect to Verdi’s versatility and exquisite music. The score has just as much personality as the performers’ portrayals, which is indubitably understood by Conlon, who is successful in yielding a wonderful clarity from his orchestra and singers. The notes, which symbolize interconnected themes, can be sweet one moment, thoughtful the next, perhaps even ambiguous, before resolving themselves with a definitive statement that punctuates with fervor. The music is emblematic of collective pride in response to outside persecution – a motif that is repeatedly reminded of by the purposeful chorus. Led by Conlon, they are impelled by a fortified courage with which they sing the pieces, none of which are more transcendent than the unifying “Va, Pensiero,” wherein the Hebrews yearn to reclaim and “re-awaken fond memories” of their country.”

L.A. Excites
Imaan Jalali
November 4, 2017
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“Music Director James Conlon, in his tenth year with the company, conducts a powerful performance, with plenty of vigor and rum-ti-tum raw excitement of early Verdi.”

Classical Voice
Truman C. Wang
November 2, 2017
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“I have to start with our music director James Conlon and the forces of the LA Opera Orchestra who outdid themselves with the vigor and flexibility of their playing. For anyone who knows Verdi you can feel him finding his way in Nabucco. Many of his orchestral effects, to say nothing of some of the vocal writing, are crude by the standards set by his middle period operas, Rigoletto, Trovatore and Traviata.

“Too often I think conductors try to polish the earlier works to dampen and smooth these effects. Mr. Conlon took no such measures and embraced Verdi’s score and showcased its primitive and youthful character to the point of making it the cornerstone of his interpretation. Details I had never heard before were brought forward throughout the evening.

“The violently slashing up and down figures the strings play to accompany the bass cabaletta,”Come notte a sol fulgente” in the first scene was just the first of many that brought the score a muscular vitality I hadn’t experienced before.”

Parterre
Patrick Mack
November 7, 2017
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“The vivacity of the show would not have been complete without the masterful contributions of live pit orchestra conductor James Conlon…”

Daily Trojan
Catherine Yang
November 7, 2017
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“Verdi’s rich music, of course, is thumpingly sonorous, with conductor James Conlon and chorus director Grant Gershon eliciting bravura performances from what seems like a Cecil B. DeMille-like cast of thousands in this Biblical epic. Especially melodious and pleasing to the ear and heart is Verdi’s “Va, Pensiero.” This Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves became an anthem of the Italian struggle for independence, similar to how John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” was the signature song of the anti-Vietnam War movement.”

People's World
Ed Rampell
November 10, 2017
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Photo: Chester Higgins