21 Apr 2007

VERDI: Nabucco (Nabucodonosor)

Nabucco (Nabucodonosor), Drama lirico in four parts.

Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Temistocle Solera after Nabuccodonosor, a ballet by Antonio Cortesi, and Nabuchodonosor, a play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu.

First Performance: 9 March 1842, Teatro alla Scala, Milan.

Principal Characters:
Nabucodonosor, King of BabylonBaritone
Ismaele, nephew of Sedecia, King of JerusalemTenor
Zaccaria, High Priest of the HebrewsBass
Abigaille, a slaveSoprano
Fenena, daughter of NabucodonosorSoprano
The High Priest of BaalBass
Abdallo, elderly officer of the King of BabylonTenor
Anna, Zaccaria’s sisterSoprano


Part I

Nabucco, King of Babylon, has attacked the Israelites who, gathered in the temple of Solomon, pray for the salvation of Israel. The High Priest encourages them to have faith in their God, and says that he has a valuable hostage, Fenena, the daughter of Nabucco, Ismaele arrives, the nephew of the King of Jerusalem, to whom Zaccaria entrusts Fenena when he learns that Nabucco is making a furious entry into the city. Ismaele and Fenena, in love with each other, attempt to flee, but Abigaille — a slave believed to be Nabucco’s first daughter — bursts into the temple at the head of a band of Babylonian warriors disguised as Israelites. Abigaille, who unrequitedly loves Ismaele, accuses him of betraying his country but offers to save him if he will return her love. Nabucco now enters the temple but is confronted by Zaccaria, who threatens to kill Fenena if he profanes the sanctuary. As the High Priest is about to stab her, Ismaele disarms him: Fenena throws herself into the arms of Nabucco, who orders the destruction of the temple in revenge.

Part II

Having returned to Babylon, Abigaille learns from a document taken from Nabucco that she is a slave, and for this reason he has appointed Fenena regent in his absence. Furious with Nabucco and Fenena, who has been converted to the God of Israel, she attempts to wrest the crown from her but the King arrives and, snatching the crown from Abigaille and repudiating both the God of Babylon and the God of the Israelites, proclaims himself God. He is immediately struck down by a thunderbolt, and dementedly invokes Fenena’s aid while Abigaille picks up the crown.

Part III

Abigaille, having seized the throne, orders the death of all the Israelites. Nabucco enters in ragged clothing, claiming back the throne which Abigaille says she has occupied for the good of Baal, as he is deranged. She forces him to sign the Israelites’ death-warrant, but when Nabucco realizes that he has thus condemned Fenena he wants to retract, Abigaille is obdurate and has him led off to prison. On the banks of the Euphrates the Israelites, in chains, lament their fate.

Part IV

From prison Nabucco sees Fenena being dragged to her death and desperately begs forgiveness from the God of the Israelites. Restored to sanity, he escapes with a band of faithful soldiers and saves his daughter. The idol of Baal falls and shatters, and Nabucco extols the glory of Jehovah. Abigaille has taken poison but, on the point of death, she begs Fenena’s forgiveness and blesses her love for Ismaele, imploring God’s mercy. Nabucco is hailed by Zaccaria as the king of kings.

Click here for the complete libretto.