Nabucco Opera by Giuseppe Verdi
In Italian with projected English titles
Politics. Religion. A dangerous love triangle. Plus two killer roles and some of the greatest choral music ever written, including the soul-stirring "Va, pensiero" chorus. The ensembles are as thrilling as the arias in the opera that made Verdi a star!
On one side, the fiery Hebrew priest Zaccaria, battling to lead his people from oppression. On the other, Nabucco, the tyrannical Babylonian king and his adopted daughter Abigaille, who will stop at nothing to get her father's throne and her sister's lover.
Željko Lučić (Lyric's riveting Rigoletto in 2013) is Nabucco, a role compared to Shakespeare's King Lear in its majestic sweep. This is Verdi’s first great role for baritone! Experience Nabucco’s journey from despised despot to self-proclaimed god -- and then from paranoid madman to grateful father redeemed by faith.
And watch as dramatic-soprano phenom Tatiana Serjan eats up the stage as the warrior princess Abigaille, worthy sister to Lady Macbeth in her lust for power. There’s no leading lady in opera more formidable than Abigaille, who sails up to blockbusting high Cs at the slightest provocation!
Russian’s mighty Dmitry Belosselskiy is Zaccaria, one of Verdi’s few roles for a truly virtuoso bass. And velvet-voiced Elizabeth DeShong is Nabucco’s gentle daughter Fenena, whose sweet, soulful music is the perfect contrast to the fiery Abigaille!
Performance running time: 2 hours 47 minutes including 1 intermission
Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, the Harris Family Foundation, and Katherine A. Abelson and Robert J. Cornell are the generous sponsors of Lyric’s presentation of Verdi's Nabucco. Lyric Opera production originally made possible by the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa.
Please note that this production is different from the one originally announced in January 2015.
Photo: Cory Weaver (San Diego Opera)
Nabucco Opera Resources
commentary by Nicholas Ivor Martin, Director of Operations and Special Initiatives
Download (right click and "Save Target As" / "Save Link As")
Lyric Opera Commentaries are sponsored by the Patrick G. and Shirley Welsh Ryan Foundation in honor of their parents.
A project of the Women’s Board of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Warner Classics – Manuguerra, Scotto, cond. Muti
Act III, “Deh perdona, deh perdona”
Act III, “Va, pensiero”
Articles:Nabucco – A Really Big Show
2016 Lineup: Preview and Listen to the Next Three Operas!
A First Look at Nabucco with Director Matthew Ozawa
Nabucco Opera SynopsisTIME: 586 B.C.
ACT ONE – Jerusalem
Inside the temple of Solomon
ACT TWO – Babylon
Scene 1: An apartment in Nabucco’s palace
Scene 2: A hall in the palace
ACT THREE – Babylon
Scene 1: The palace’s throne room
Scene 2: The banks of the Euphrates
ACT FOUR – Babylon
Scene 1: A royal chamber in the palace
Scene 2: The temple of Baal
ACT ONE – Jerusalem
The Assyrian king, Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar) of Babylon, is rapidly advancing with his army toward the temple of Solomon. Within the temple walls, the Hebrews beg their god, Jehovah, not to let them fall prey to Nabucco (Chorus: Gli arredi festivi). The prophet Zaccaria brings in Nabucco’s daughter, Fenena, who is his hostage. Ismaele rushes in and announces that Nabucco has entered the city. Zaccaria entrusts Fenena to Ismaele, as he prepares for the final battle.
Fenena and Ismaele recall the time when Ismaele – as ambassador of Judea – was imprisoned in Babylon. Fenena rescued him, undeterred by the jealousy of her sister Abigaille, who loves Ismaele as well. Ismaele vows to free Fenena, although he would have to betray his own religion. Abigaille invades the temple at the head of a group of warriors. She taunts the lovers bitterly, but then, turning to Ismaele, reminds him that if he loved her, she could save his people (Trio: Io t’amavo!).
Just after the horrified Hebrews rush in, Nabucco arrives in triumph. Confronting an outraged Zaccaria, the king vows to destroy the Hebrews. Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena, but Ismaele disarms him. Nabucco orders the temple sacked and burned. Zaccaria calls on Jehovah to punish Ismaele for betraying his people.
ACT TWO – The Unbeliever
Scene 1. Nabucco has gone off to battle, leaving Fenena as regent. Meanwhile, Abigaille, who had believed herself Nabucco’s daughter, has discovered a document proving she was born a slave. She vows that her anger will destroy Nabucco, but then pauses to think sadly of her love for Ismaele (Cavatina: Anch’io dischiuso un giorno). The High Priest of Baal comes to inform her that Fenena is setting the Hebrews free. Abigaille proclaims that Fenena will soon be begging a slave for mercy (Cabaletta: Salgo già dal trono aurato).
Scene 2. Zaccaria meditates on the greatness of Jehovah’s law (Prayer: Tu sul labbro) as he goes to give spiritual tutorship to Fenena. A group of Levites gathers and Ismaele attempts to speak with them, but they curse him furiously for his supposed betrayal (Chorus: Il maledetto non ha fratelli). Anna enters with the news that Fenena has converted to the Hebrew religion. Abdallo, one of Nabucco’s officers, rushes in to urge Fenena to flee, since Nabucco is presumed dead in battle and the Babylonians are now calling for Abigaille to seize power. Entering with the High Priest of Baal, Abigaille orders Fenena to hand the crown over to her. Nabucco appears with his soldiers (Finale: S’apressan gl’istanti d’un ira fatale) and claims the crown. Accusing the Babylonians of betraying him, he declares that the only god to be worshipped is himself. Suddenly struck by a thunderbolt, he becomes delirious and finally collapses.
ACT THREE – The Prophecy
Scene 1. The High Priest presents Abigaille with a death warrant authorizing the slaying of the Hebrews. When Nabucco is brought to Abigaille, he is incensed upon seeing her occupying the throne that is rightfully his (Duet: Donna, chi sei?…Oh, di qual’ onta aggravasi…Deh, perdona). She goads him into signing the warrant, and declares that the victims will include Fenena. Appalled, Nabucco orders Abigaille, a slave, to kneel before him. Seizing the document confirming her humble birth, Abigaille triumphantly tears it to pieces. Nabucco mocks himself as the mere shadow of a king. Trumpets announce that the hour of execution is approaching. When Nabucco begs Abigaille to have mercy on Fenena, she is unrelenting, leaving him in despair.
Scene 2. The Hebrews long for their homeland (Chorus: Va, pensiero). They are roused from this reverie by Zaccaria, who prophesies the destruction of Babylon (Aria with Chorus: Del futuro nel buio discerno).
ACT FOUR – The Shattered Idol
Scene 1. Nabucco is a prisoner in his own palace, where he suddenly awakens after the horrors of a nightmare. He hears a war cry, and then voices shouting Fenena’s name. Nabucco sees his weeping daughter in chains, being led to her execution. Powerless to save her, he prays to the god of the Hebrews for forgiveness, and swears that the temple will rise once more (Aria: Dio di Giuda). The faithful Abdallo arrives with soldiers. His sanity now restored, Nabucco readies himself for battle (Cabaletta: O prodi miei, seguitemi).
Scene 2. Fenena offers a final prayer (Aria: O, dischiuso è il firmamento!). The rites of execution are interrupted by the sudden appearance of Nabucco, who destroys the altar of Baal. Joined by Zaccaria and all the freed prisoners, he proclaims the greatness of the Hebrews’ god. Abigaille, who has taken poison, enters haltingly (Finale: Su me…morente… esanime). After begging Fenena’s forgiveness, she asks Jehovah not to curse her and falls dead.