March 06, 2019

"Nabucco" – A Really Big Show

Sometimes, grand opera just has to be, well, GRAND. Outsized, supersized, overwhelming. Call it what you will, Verdi’s Nabucco is all that. 

The historical backstory is the sweeping saga of King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) of Babylon destroying Jerusalem and forcing the Hebrews into captivity — twice. Spicing things up in the opera are forbidden loves, jealous rages, sibling rivalry, power struggles, and more. The plot takes multiple twists and turns, offering great opportunities for full-throttle music and melodrama for the soloists, chorus, and orchestra alike. The opera demands, and projects, raw power and emotion.

Nabucco was a game-changer for opera, and had a huge impact in its time — nobody had done anything like it, and it made the young composer an international sensation. 

It’s known as a blood-and-thunder opera for good reason, and Lyric’s got the forces to ring the rafters.  The chorus comprises 82 singers — that’s the regular chorus (48) plus supplementary singers -- who portray both Babylonian soldiers and Hebrew captives, and have a total of 246 costumes among them. Nabucco is famous for “Va, pensiero,” but that’s only the tip of the choral iceberg in this massive work. 

A behind the scenes look at some of the costumes the chorus will wear during Nabucco.

In addition to the 66 orchestra musicians in the pit there are 16 more playing offstage. And the stars have what it takes to send their voices soaring over it all, acting up a storm as they sing.  Nabucco’s four acts have 24 scenes that whip right along; the whole opera lasts just two hours 45 minutes, including intermission. 

Go big. You’ll have a thrilling, unforgettable night at the opera with Nabucco

Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable TrustThe 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Lyric Opera production originally made possible by the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa.

Photos: Andrew Cioffi and Cory Weaver