Kai Stewart's Confounded Contraption

MNOpera: Nabucco


Ok. Let me preface this by saying that I have almost no idea what this opera is about. They invited me to draw, not to read subtitles, and I acted accordingly.

A quick internet search will tell you the basic plot and the historical context of this play. In the interest of decreasing internet redundancy, I won't. MNOpera has set up an interesting rat-trap to reference the presence of the Austrians in Italy at the time Verdi composed this opera, and it's well worth investigating, later maybe, when you're done reading this post. In the meantime, I'm going to tell you what this opera is really about.


Ok you're right, these are not really ghosts. These two are Israelites swathed in the White Robes of Purity, +2 against The Lord's Displeasure and sunstroke. But for as long as they've been inviting me to look at their performances, the MNOpera has had these incredible minimalist sets. In Mary Stuart, the most elaborate set piece was basically a fire escape, a black stairway against a black drop, and it was arresting. I think almost half my drawings that night were of the stairway, with people sitting on it or light streaming through it or snow drifting onto it. More recently their production of Lucia di Lammermore centered around two mountainous corrugated shapes that turned to create different effects of light, shadow, and space. For Nabucco, the sets are lavish flats painted by legit old-school opera painters in Italy. The costumes are flashy and ornate, but that arresting minimalist still sneaks in around the edges.

These guys were priests of Ba'al, which is (thx Wikipedia) an honorific meaning 'lord' given to any number of gods in the Levant and Asia Minor. The Israelites used the term for their deity for a while, but it fell out of favor when the Israelites started trying to demonstrate that their god was the best one. The Old Testament seems to use it as a name for any local deity the Israelites disapproved of, and then it was conflated with a Syrian demon, Ba'al Zebub, Lord of Flies, and that's where we are now.

It's not clear whether these guys were worshipping Hadad or Melqart or Hammon or perhaps even El or Yahweh in a secty sort of way, but they look like something from The Cube or Silent Hill and they are rad.

This is the high priest of Ba'al, and this guy is nuts. Seriously, I'm engrossed in drawing, and then I glance up and this yellow-taloned tarantula is creeping around the stage and I almost drop my stylus. He had one long cane and one short one, and I could have watched him for hours.

Abigaille. She is not a ghost, she is a warrior queen and she owned this opera.

and my heart

So to sum up: MNOpera's Nabucco, ghosts and priests of Ba'al, yellow taloned tarantula, warrior queen. Tickets are cheap; not punk-cheap, but working-stiff-cheap.

Here are some more ghosts.

2012-09-24 22:35:00 UTC
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