Nabucco at Arena di Verona – synopsis

2011-08-14 13;00;27

Nabucco at Arena di Verona – synopsis

Composer and librettist

Music: Giuseppe Verdi| Lyrics: Temistocle Solera after Auguste Anicet-Bourgois and Francis Cornus play Nabuchodonosor (1836)


Libretto in Italian


First performance at 9 mars 1842 på Teatro alla Scala i Milano. Seen the performance at: 11.8.1991 Arena di Verona


|Conductor: Daniel Oren|Director: Gianfranco De Bosio|Set design: Rinaldo Olivieri|Costume: Pasquale Grossi|Lightdesign:|

Role, Voicetype and Singers

Nabucco,king of BabylonbaritoneSilvano Carroli
Abigail,förment Nebukadnessar´s oldest daughtersopranoLinda Roark Strummer
Fenena,Nebukadnessar´s daughtermezzosopranoPaola Fornasari Patti
Zacharias,hebréernas översteprästbassRoberto Scandiuzzi
Ismael,nephew to King Sedecia av JerusalemtenorGiorgio Tieppo
Anna,Zaccarias sistersopranoMina Blum
Baals översteprästbassCarlo Del Bosco
Abdallo,one of Nebukadnessars older oficer´stenorAngelo Casertano

Time and place: Jerusalem and Babylon 586-587 f.Kr. och därefter.

ACT ONE – Jerusalem.

The Hebrews and Levites are gathered together in Solomon’s temple to lament the fate of the Israelites, who have just been defeated by the Babylonian King Nabucco(Nebuchadnezzar), who is about to enter the city at the head of his victorious army.The High Priest Zaccaria is encouraging the faithful not to abandon hope, for they hold a valuable hostage: Fenena, Nabucco’s daughter.Fenena is entrusted to the custody of Ismaele,nephew to King Sedecia of Jerusalem. Ismaele, however, is in love with Fenena, who on a previous occasion, at great personal risk, had freed him when he was held prisoner in Babylon.He now intends to return the favour. They are about to leave by a side gate when Abigaille,whom everyone believes to be Nabucco’s firstborn daughter (but is in fact merely a slave),enters the temple at the head of a band of babylonian soldiers disguised as Hebrews.Abigaille declares her love to Ismaile and offers freedom to all the Hebrews in return for his love.Ismaele refuses. In the meantime a crowd of Hebrews, who are being hounded down by Nabucco’s soldiers, in vain seek refuge in the temple; the king himself appears on their threshold. When Zaccaria raises his dagger on Fenena, Ismaele saves her from death. Nabucco orders the city to be sacked and the conquered and the conquered to be put to the sword.


In the apartments of the Royal Palace in Babylon. From a document Nabucco had kept secret, Abigaille learns of her true origins. She is disturbed by the news, but nevertheless perseveres in her plans to wreak vengeance on Fenena, to whom Nabucco has trusted the throne during his absence fighting the Hebrews. She contemplates having her rival murdered, taking over the throne and spreading the news that Nabucco is dead. She is supported by the High Priest of Bel, who is scandalised by Fenena’s freeing of the Hebrews.

Zaccaria prays to the Lord over the tables of the Law. A chorus of Levites is heard cursing Ismaele for having saved Fenena from Zaccaria’s dagger. Fenena, however, is now A converted to the Hebrew religion. Abigaille is about to carry out her treacherous plan when Nabucco unexpectedly returns. He grasps the crown and declares himself sole King and God of a people who must adore him for eternity. At these blasphemous words a thunderbolt bursts over his head and in terror he feels his crown being snatched from his head by a supernatural force. A deep silence follows the confusion caused by this mysterious event. Abigaille takes advantage of it to pick up the fallen crown and swear that the “splendour of the people of Bel shall never be extinguished”.

ACT THREE – The Hanging Gardens in the Royal Palace in Babylon.

Abigaille, who has reclaimed herself queen, is seated on the throne where she receives the homage of the nobles of the kingdom in the presence of the High Priest.When the deranged Nabucco enters Abigaille uses a trick to remove his royal seal, for she intends to use it to ratify the sentence of death on all the Hebrews prisoners, including the converted Fenena. Nabucco, realizing too late the trick to which he has fallen victim, protests and orders Abigaille to prostrate herself before him slave that she is. She responds by tearing up the doccument that reveals her origins and by consigning him to the guards.

On the banks of the Euphrates, the Hebrews condemned to hard labour lament their “beautiful and lost fatherland” and call on the Lord’s help.Zaccaria encourages them with the solemn prophecy that wrathful vengeance is about to descend on Babylon.


Nabucco, waking from a heavy sleep full of nightmares, hears Fenena’s name from the street. He runs to the balcony and backs away in terror on seeing his favourite daughter bound in chains and escorted by soldiers, while all around her echo the cries of “Death!”. In vain he tries to leave the palace, only to find himself a prisoner. Then, as if struck by divine inspiration, he kneels down in prayer to implore mercy from the God of the Hebrews. ‘The doors immediately open and a band of faithful guards enter: he is no longer a poor madman, for they recognise him as the rightful king. With acclamations they unsheathe their swords and follow him to reclaim his crown and free Fenena. Fenena has already been led with other Hebrew s to the sacrificial altar erected in the Hanging Gardens, when Nabucco and his followers enter. The idol of Bel is shattered into fragments and Abigaille, who has poisoned herself, is dragged on. Nabucco, together with the people of Israel give glory to Jehovah and celebrate their reconquered freedom.

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