Nabucco

Opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)

Dramma lirico in four parts

Libretto
Temistocle Solera,
after the play Nabucodonosor by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue
and the scenario of the ballet Nabucodonosor by Antonio Cortesi

Premiere
9 March 1842, Milan (Teatro alla Scala)

Cast
NABUCCO [NEBUCHADNEZZAR], King of Babylon (Baritone)
ISMAELE (Tenor)
ZACCARIA (Bass)
ABIGAILLE (Soprano)
FENENA (Soprano)
HIGH PRIEST OF BAAL (Bass)
ABDALLO (Tenor)
ANNA (Soprano)
CHORUS
Babylonian and Hebrew soldiers, Levites, Hebrew virgins, Babylonian women, magi,
grandees of the Kngdom of Babylon, populace, etc.

Place
Jerusalem (Part I) and Babylon (Parts II to IV)

Time
587 BC.

With Nabucco, first performed in 1842, Verdi’s great artistic career began. The story is loosely based on the Old Testament, though all the characters except Nabucco himself (Nebuchadnezzar) were inventions of his librettist. The famous chorus of the Hebrews in exile, Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate (Go, thought, on golden wings) is one of Verdi’s finest pieces of choral writing. It also encapsulated the feelings of the Italian people at the time about their long history of oppression and foreign rule. With three strong characters and a succession of brilliant choruses a new and exciting era of Italian opera began.

©Simon Bainbridge 2017

 


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