from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Work data
Title: Nabucco
Performance by the Silesian Opera on the open-air stage Eberswalde in August 2004

Performance by the Silesian Opera on the open-air stage Eberswalde in August 2004

Original language: Italian
Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto : Temistocle Solera
Literary source: Nabuchodonosor by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu
Premiere: March 9, 1842
Place of premiere: Milan , Teatro alla Scala
Playing time: approx. 2 ¼ hours
Place and time of the action: Jerusalem and Babylon, 586 BC Chr.
  • Nabucco ( Nabukodonozor ), King of Babylon ( baritone )
  • Abigaille, allegedly the first-born daughter of Nabucco ( soprano )
  • Fenena, second-born daughter of Nabucco ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Ismaele, nephew of Sedecia, King of Jerusalem, loves Fenena ( tenor )
  • Zaccaria, high priest of the Hebrews ( Bass )
  • Anna, Zaccaria's sister (soprano)
  • Abdallo, Babylonian guardian (tenor)
  • High Priest of Baal (Bass)
  • Soldiers, people ( chorus )

Nabucco , abbreviation of Nabucodonosor , the Italian form of the name of Nebuchadnezzar , is the title of an opera by Giuseppe Verdi , composed in 1841 and premiered on March 9, 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan . The libretto is by Temistocle Solera (1815–1878). On the one hand, the opera is about the striving of the Jewish people for freedom from Babylonian captivity. On the other hand, the extreme overestimation of himself by the title hero Nabucco (the biblical Nebuchadnezzar II ) is at the center. According to the plot of the opera, Nabucco wants to make himself god. He is then beaten mad and only healed through conversion to the God of the Hebrews.


First act: “Gerusalemme” - Jerusalem

In the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem

The Hebrews and the Levites are gathered in Solomon's temple to mourn the fate of the Israelites who were recently defeated by the Babylonian King Nabucco. This is just marching into the city. The high priest Zaccaria encourages his followers not to give up hope, since they have a precious hostage in Nabucco's daughter Fenena. Fenena is guarded by Ismaele, the nephew of King Sedecia of Jerusalem. Ismaele is in love with Fenena, who freed him at great personal risk while he was a prisoner in Babylon. He would now like to return this favor. The two plan to run away when Abigaille, who everyone believes is Nabucco's first-born daughter, enters the temple at the head of Babylonian soldiers disguised as Hebrews. Abigaille reveals her love to Ismaele and offers to release all Hebrews if he returns her love. Ismaele does not want to be blackmailed. Meanwhile, Hebrews, who were hunted down by Nabucco's soldiers, seek refuge in the temple. Nabucco appears. Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena if Nabucco and his people dare to disregard the holy place. He raises the dagger, but Ismaele steps in and saves her from death. Zaccaria damn the traitor. Nabucco hugs his daughter and orders the temple to be burned down.

Second act: "L'Empio" - The wicked

The royal rooms in the palace in Babylon

Abigaille learns her true origin from a document kept secret by Nabucco. She is not Nabucco's firstborn, but the daughter of a slave.

She is determined to take revenge on Fenena, who entrusted the throne to Nabucco while fighting the Hebrews. She wants to kill her rival, take the throne and spread the news that Fenena is dead. Your project is supported by the high priest of Baal .

In another wing of the palace

Zaccaria is free. He and his people convert Babylonians who convert to the Jewish faith. The Levite choir curses Ismaele for saving Fenena's life. They despise him for his betrayal (Fenena is able to escape). Zaccaria puts a stop to the choir - Ismaele is not a traitor because he has saved the life of a convert.

Abigaille is in the process of carrying out her plan to usurp power when Nabucco returns. He seizes the crown and declares himself to be the God that people are to worship forever. Lightning strikes next to the king, he goes mad. Abigaille puts on the crown.

Third act: “La profezia” - The prophecy

The hanging gardens at the royal palace in Babylon

Abigaille, who has made herself queen, sits on the throne in the presence of the high priest of Baal to receive the homage of the nobles. The maddened Nabucco appears. Abigaille tricked him into signing the document with which the death sentence of the Hebrews, including the converted Fenena, could be carried out.

Nabucco realizes this too late, protests and threatens Abigaille to reveal the details of her birth. He looks for the document about her origins, but Abigaille already has it and tears it up. She hands the old king over to the guards and has him locked up. Nabucco asks her forgiveness and promises to cede the throne if Abigaille spares Fenena. Abigaille rejects the proposal.

On the banks of the Euphrates

Melody and text of the first verse of the prison choir "Va, pensiero"

The Hebrews, condemned to hard work, lament their “beautiful and lost homeland” (prisoner's choir “ Va, pensiero ”) and call the Lord for help. Zaccaria encourages his people with the prophecy of the visitation and fall of Babylon.

Fourth act: “L'idolo infranto” - The broken idol

Rooms of the royal palace in Babylon

Nabucco, awakening from a deep sleep full of nightmares, hears Fenena's name from the street; the prisoners and Fenena are led to execution. In that moment of fatherly fear, madness leaves him. Nabucco kneels down to implore the God of the Hebrews for mercy and to promise to worship him. Suddenly the gate opens and a group of royal guards appear. With sword drawn, they follow him to reclaim his crown and free Fenena.

In the hanging gardens of the royal palace in Babylon

Fenena was taken to the sacrificial altar in the hanging gardens with other Hebrews . The high priest of Baal is performing the sacrificial ceremony when Nabucco and his followers enter. He orders the idol to be overturned. It falls to the ground and splinters. The Jews are set free, and Nabucco exhorts his people to bow before Jehovah the God of the Jews . The defeated Abigaille is poisoned. As she dies, she asks the God of the Hebrews for forgiveness. Together with the people of Israel, Nabucco praises Jehovah and the freedom that has been regained.


In addition to the vocal soloists, the work is made up of a four-part choir. According to Roger Parker's critical edition, the orchestra consists of the following instruments:



After the failure with the musical comedy Un giorno di regno , Verdi wanted to give up composing. Bartolomeo Merelli , the director of La Scala in Milan at the time, was able to persuade him to reverse this decision. He gave Verdi the libretto of Temistocle Solera, which was originally supposed to be set to music by Otto Nicolai , but which he had refused. Verdi was captivated by the material and immediately began to compose. "One day a verse, the next day another verse, once a note, another time a phrase, so little by little the opera came into being."

Nabucco was performed at La Scala as the last work of the 1841/42 season and was so successful that it was repeated 57 times in the next season, which began in autumn 1842.


Nabucco marked the beginning of Verdi's “galley years”, during which he let himself be driven by ever new contracts to write operas that were not always successful. The term goes back to a letter from Verdi in 1858: “Since Nabucco, I haven't had a quiet hour, so to speak. Sixteen years of galley work, ”wrote the composer there - from 1842 to 1858. At the same time, Nabucco was Verdi's first great success on the opera stage.

The identification of the Italian people with this striving for freedom and the desire for the unity of Italy , which is expressed in particular in the well-known prisoner's choir Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate (“climb, thought, on golden wings”), does not go directly to the time of origin back to the opera. Rather, it is a retrospective construction in the context of the Italian nation-building from the 1860s / 1970s, which was adopted in the first Verdi biographies at the end of the 19th century. It must also be remembered that the librettist Solera the Neoguelfismus was close to that called for the strengthening of the church in the emerging Italian nation state - a position that was not shared by Verdi.

Recordings (selection)


The Nabucco pipeline project, the construction of a natural gas - pipeline from Turkey to Austria worth around 14 billion euros, was named after the opera in 2009. After the first meeting of the consortium, the participants went to the Vienna State Opera to see this opera. At the dinner that followed, those present voted for the name “Nabucco” when looking for a project name.

See also

  • Il Nabucco , oratorio by Michelangelo Falvetti (1642–1692)


  • Gertrud Scheumann: Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco. Libretto by Temistocle Solera. Translation of the Italian text into singable German by Gertrud Scheumann with photos, Heuchelheim: Longtai Verlag 2011 (Gertrud Scheumann's opera series Volume 4). ISBN 978-3-938946-20-6 .

Web links

Commons : Nabucco  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Information on the orchestral line-up in: Anselm Gerhard, Uwe Schweikert (ed.): Verdi Handbuch , Metzler / Bärenreiter, Kassel, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-476-01768-0 and ISBN 3-7618-2017-8 , p. 308.
  2. Andrew Porter: Wonderful Traces of Eternal Beauty. In: Supplement to CD I Lombardi , Philips 1984, p. 58.
  3. Verdi quote, printed by Porter: Wonderful traces of eternal beauty. 1984, p. 58.
  4. Porter: Wonderful Traces of Eternal Beauty. 1984.
  5. Birgit Pauls: Giuseppe Verdi and the Risorgimento: a political myth in the process of nation building ; Akademie Verlag Berlin, 1996; P. 181 f.
  6. Jakob Zirm: Nabucco Pipeline: Contract is signed. The press , July 12, 2009.