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Nabucco - Arena Opera Festival

nabucco

Author: Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Temistocle Solera, after the play Nabuchodonosor by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu, and the ballet Nabucodonosor by Antonio Cortesi.
Première: 9th March 1842, Milan (Teatro alla Scala).

Verdi sympathized with the Italian Risorgimento, the resurgence of Italy's leading cultural role and political unification under king Vittorio Emanuele II. Nabucco has often been considered Verdi's opera with more political meanings with the captive hebrews symbolically representing the divided and occupied pre-unification Italians.
If the fine and inspiring melody ot jews slaves chorus "Va pensiero" had not derived from opera and from a situation involving imprisonment, it might well have become Italy national anthem.

Nabucco, Dramma Lirico in 4 parts

In Jerusalem, inside the temple of Solomon, the hebrews pray God to save them from Babylonian army led by king Nabucco. Hebrew's high priest Zaccaria is holding as a hostage Fenena, daughter of the Babylon king. Fenena once freed Ismaele, nephew of King Sedecia, from his captivity in Babylon. They falled in love and Fenena followed Ismaele in Jerusalem.
Ismaele now intends to set her free but Abigaille, Nabucco's elder daughter, who is also in love with Ismaele, stands in their way. Ismaele rejects Abigaille and she swears to take revenge.
Nabucco finally occupies the temple and when Zaccaria thretens to kill Fenena Ismaele prevents him. The temple is looted, hebrews are led to Babylon as slaves and Ismaele is considered a traitor.

In Babylon Nabucco has made Fenena regent of the kingdom while he continues his campaign against the hebrews. The priests of Baal see their power threatened by Fenena who is well disposed towards the jews.
The high priest shows Abigaille a document that shows she is the child of a slave while Fenena is the rightful heir to the throne. Abigaille decide to ally with the priests, who spread false reports that Nabucco has fallen in battle.
In a hall of the royal palace Zaccaria converts to hebrew faith. Ismaele is condemned as a traitor by his tribe, but Fenena's conversion saves him, since it is now a hebrew woman whom he has helped.
Misled by the false news of Nabucco's defeat, the Babylonians want to see Abigaille crowned queen. She demands the crown from Fenena but Nabucco returns and places the crown on his own head proclaiming himself a god, blashemously defying the gods of Babylon and the God of the hebrews alike. A lightning strikes him and he goes mad.

In the hanging gardens of Babylon, Abigaille has proclaimed herself queen. The high priest brings her warrants for the execution of the Hebrews and Fenena. Abigaille persuades the deranged king Nabucco to sign the death sentences. When he realizes that his daughter Fenena is among those who are to die he tries to wrest power from Abigaille and reveal the secret of her birth, but Abigaille destroys the document.
On the banks of the river Euphrates the Hebrews lament their lost of freedom and the native land. Zaccaria calls them to resist and prophesies the certain destruction of Babylon.

In the royal palace of Babylon Abigaille has arrested Nabucco. Tormented by nightmares he believes he is going to fight the jews but then realizes that he is hearing his daughter Fenena being led to the execution. Nabucco prays god for forgiveness and aid and the madness leaves him. With few soldiers Nabucco sets out to rescue Fenena.
In the hanging garden, the execution of the hebrews in front of the idol of Baal is about to take place. Nabucco stops the execution and orders to destroy the idol. But the idol collapses on its own accord, hebrews chains fall away and Abigaille dies, asking Fenena and the hebrews for forgiveness.

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