Staging of Nabucco is translation of historical layer of the libretto into the modern language of the theater, looking for universal social mechanisms that overlap with the problems of power, politics and love. Opera is presented in symbolic space, given the content of Verdi’s opera – expulsion of the Jews and the Babylonian captivity – between the site where the New Synagogue stood until 1938, the Balcony at Hotel Monopol built especially for Hitler and the surviving White Stork Synagogue.
Stage is designed as an urban landscape with levels, platforms and stairs – a spatial continuation of Wroclaw opera façade that has been transformed into temple of art referring to libretto’s Temple of Solomon. It is attacked by a regime of Babylonians who want to exterminate a nation means by destroying the symbols of its cultural heritage. Just as to depose a dictator means to destroy his monuments. Colorful image of stage gradually fades into grayness once Nabucco takes over the building andculminates in 2nd part of opera when Abigaile becomes political leader – the whole building is covered with grey curtain.Giant two-face sculpture of 2,5t weight and 12m height is made with facial expressions of Nabucco / Abigaile soloists – Krum Galabov / Anna Lichorowicz. Sculpture responds to ongoing events on the stage: rotates, cries, shines light through cracks and collapses at the end of the performance.
To bring 2100 people audience closer to the large open-air stage as well as to navigate between large chorus scenes and intimate scenes featuring soloists, a video projection screens with live cameras was integrated in stage. Pre-recorded videos are illustrating untold stories of libretto. The cameras are also metaphor of the media actively shaping political systems and politicians, both in the present and in the past.
Staging concept is looking for intuitive metaphors – for example the concept of “gray mass”. Uniforms of Babylon take their individuality. On the other side of the barricade there are Hebrews who have costumes in the palette of all colors of the 1960s. It is not a mass, but a group of individualized figures. Not a religious community, but a society, a nation.
Moving the aesthetics of the scene a few decades back opens a space in which this archaicity could function and creates the distance necessary to look at ourselves. The 1960s is also an important caesura of the last hundred years of Polish history – a moment when the issues of politics and faith, also discussed in the Nabucco libretto, materialized on the pages of history.