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Giuseppe Verdi

Nabucco

Librettist: Temistocle Solera
Based on the Bible.

Cast of Characters

  • Abigaille, (soprano) Nabucco's supposed daughter
  • Fenena, (mezzo-soprano) Nabucco's actual daughter
  • Anna, (soprano) Zaccaria's sister
  • Nabucco, (baritone) King of Babylon
  • Ismaele, (tenor) nephew of the King of Jerusalem
  • Abdallo, (tenor) offical of Nabucco's court
  • Zaccaria, (bass) Hebrew High Priest
  • High Priest of Baal, (bass)
  • Hebrews, Levites, Assyrians, vestils and soldiers.

Setting

586 B. C. in Jerusalem and Babylon.

Premiere

9th March 1842; La Scala, Milan.

Plot

The Israelites are denouncing their impending doom because Nabucco has invaded their city and is looting at his own pleasure. Ismaele enters with a warning that Nabucco is headed in their direction. Zaccaria entrusts Fenena to Ismaele and leaves to fortify the temple. Ismaele declares his love for Fenena and she returns it. They are interrupted by the appearance of Abigaille accompanied by a band of Assyrians. She scorns Ismaele and tells him he can save his people if he will return her love which he refuses. Nabucco enters and orders the temple looted and burned.

Back in Babylon, Abigaille finds a document that certifies she is not Nabucco's daughter. She swears vengeance on Nabucco for hiding the truth from her. The High Priest of Baal arrives and informs her of her elevation to the throne. The people are told that their king has fallen in battle and Abigaille calls for the death of the Hebrews. Abigaille demands the royal scepter from Fenena who refuses to yield it. At that moment, Nabucco enters and places the crown on his head. He announces that not only is he King, but he is also God. He commands everyone to kneel and pay homage to him when a lightning bolt strikes him and renders him insane. Abigaille victoriously returns the crown to her head.

Later, a disheveled Nabucco is told by Abigaille that he is not well enough to be King. Abigaille then tricks him into signing the death warrant for the Hebrews. When Nabucco remembers that his daughter Fenena, who converted to the Hebrew religion, is among those condemned, he searches for the document that proves Abigaille's claim to the throne false. She draws the document from her person and destroys it in front of him. His entreaties for Fenena's life fall on deaf ears. Alone Nabucco prays to the God of the Hebrews for forgiveness in return for his own and his people's conversion. His mind clears and he leads his soldiers to halt the execution of the Hebrews.

Memorable sections of music

The Overture
Tu sul labbro dei veggenti
Act III duet for Nabucco and Abigaille
Và, pensiero
Dio di Giuda!
Immenso Jeova

Copyright © 1996, Stephen L. Parker

Trumpet