Leo Nucci: 'He doesn't just sing Nabucco - he is Nabucco'
Blogger Opera Chic on why the Italian baritone is perfect for his upcoming role.
For all his technique, hard work, five decades of study and worldwide performances, the respect that Italian baritone Leo Nucci enjoys in the Italian opera community can be summed up in one word: humanity.
Born in Emilia-Romagna on the fringes of Bologna, Leo Nucci is the greatest Verdi baritone of the post-Piero Cappuccilli era. He’s a guardian of the true Verdi baritone’s deep tradition.
The 70-year-old Italian baritone’s approach to his signature Verdi roles – Macbeth, Rigoletto and Nabucco – begins with facsimiles of the Italian composer’s hand-written scores:
It’s just like Shakespeare – no matter how well you think you know him, every time you go back, you discover new things that you didn’t know were there – new accenti that you hadn’t noticed, new subtleties and important nuances that manifest themselves the more you study the score.”
Onstage, he tosses elegant accuti in generous voice and his charisma illuminates the entire cast. Offstage, he quotes Pythagoras, Italian Renaissance music theorist/composer Gioseffo Zarlino and Jean-Philippe Rameau from years of study.
Deep humility has always marked his musicianship – in the early 1970s, he joined the Teatro alla Scala chorus for five years to re-learn the fundamentals of singing techniques.
‘Leo Nucci is legendary in the opera world because his humanity is on the same level as his artistry. When these two important aspects come together, the level of artistry grows immensely,’ explains conductor Nicola Luisotti, ‘Nucci doesn’t just sing Nabucco – he is Nabucco. From the beginning of the opera until the end, the audience believes in him because he has the ability and the talent to transport everyone to another time, another world.’ Susan Fisher, Head of Friends at the Royal Opera House, describes Leo Nucci as, “one of the greatest artists still performing, a true baritone and the Rigoletto du jour!”
Nucci debuted at the Royal Opera House in 1978, singing the role of Miller in Verdi’s Luisa Miller. Since then he’s sung a number of roles in Verdi operas at Covent Garden, as well as appearing in Mozart operas such as Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte.