Performed in Italian (with Russian surtitles)
Premiere of this production: 05 Jan 2001
The performance has 3 intermissions
Running time: 3 hours 15 minutes
"Opera "Nabucco", in spite of the fact that it refers to the early period of Verdi’s creative work, is one of the most interesting works by him. Unfortunately, at this time a day the title of the opera tells nothing to the audience and in no way is taken in by them. The story that is opened in the libretto by T.Solera doesn’t invoke the vivid response in the audience, as it is very old, almost mythological. To feel it deeply, it is important to realistically and even naturalistically portray on stage the story of the King Nabucco.
This story took place in the time when there were awful wars with the aim to annihilate, the cities were ransacked, and genocide and assimilation were done. As a result of one of these wars from the Solomon’s Temple only the Wailing Wall was left. People pray and cry near it, this is a symbol of their believes in the epoch of total unbelief, nihilism, the loss of spirituality, idealization of the extent, number and quantity that today are overall urgent.
We’ve decided that this bloody and terrible story should be depicted with the help of all these unique technical novelties that the belarussian opera theatre has. Our aim is to bring this opera closer to the modern, particularly young audience, by means of modern machinery, video projection and original stage language."
Mikhail Pandzhavidze, the Director of the Production
Act 1. Jerusalem
In the Solomon’s Temple
The city Jerusalem is beleaguered by the Babylonian troops of the King Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews gathered together in the temple to pray for the rescue. A high priest Zaccaria encourages the fellow tribesmen: the daughter of the Babylonian potentate Fenena got in the siege. The hostage can bring peace!
Ismaele, the nephew of the King of Jerusalem, brings the news that the enemies have entered the city. The high priest Zaccaria predicts that the God of Abraham will send the death to the enemies of the Jews.
Ismaele and Fenena love each other since the time the youth was the envoy of the Judea in Babylon. At that time Fenena ventured to free him from the dungeon, not being frightened by the anger of her sister Abigaille. Now it is his time to become the liberator.
Abigaille appears escorted by the Babylonian troops, changed their clothes into the Jews’ ones. She threatens the sister with the terrible vengeance for the betrayal and sympathy for the enemies of the Babylon. Abigaille also loves Ismaele and promises to spare the Jewish nation, if Ismaele prefers her to Fenena. The youth refuses to. In this hard time Fenena appeals to the God of Israel for the first time with the supplication to save the beloved.
The Temple fills up with the people again. The approach of the threatening King Nabucco inspires the people with fear.
Nabucco enters the city. Abigaille and the Babylonian troops glorify their King. Zaccaria raises the dagger over Fenena and threatens her to deal shortly with her, if Nabucco steps over the threshold of the Temple. But Ismaele withdraws the dagger from Fenena and returns her to her father.
But Nabucco’s "gratitude" is terrible: he orders the warriors to organize the cruel slaughter, to ransack and burn down the Solomon’s Temple. The Jews curse Ismaele, the betrayer.
Act 2. The Atheist
The chamber in the King’s palace in Babylon
A parchment gets in the hands of Abigaille, from where she finds out that her mother was a slave. It means that the legal heiress of the throne is Nabucco’s younger daughter – Fenena! Power-loving Abigaille is full of anger and resolution to try to obtain the fall of Fenena, and also to get to know the happiness of mutual love.
The high priest of Baal comes in with the news that the atheist Fenena frees the captive Jews. He calls Abigaille to take power in her hands. Everything is ready for the coronation. The troops, defrauded by the rumour that Nabucco is dead, is ready to become to Abigaille’s colours. The princess revels with the thought of her power. All the people acknowledge her, and the King`s daughters bow to the bondmaid!
Zaccaria gathers the captive Jews for the prayer. He predicts the coming triumph of the God of Iegova.
The Levites curse and send away Ismaele, thinking of him as a traitor. Vainly Ismaele is trying to justify himself. The accursed don’t have brothers – the Levites answer him.
Zaccaria’s sister Anna stands up for Ismaele. Fenena appears, and after her Abdallo, the faithful guard of Nabucco. He tells about Nabucco’s death and about Abigaille’s conspiracy.
She herself appears too, trying to take away her sister’s crown. General horror is called by the Nabucco’s appearance. Everybody is seized with the feeling of tragic events.
Putting on the crown, Nabucco declares himself a God. At this very moment the thunderbolt throws down the king, the crown falls from his head. Nabucco turns out to the werewolf, that he is surrounded with the ghosts and that a bloody rain is pouring on his head…
Abigaille triumphs: she has the crown!
Act 3. The Prophecy.
The hanging gardens
The people of Babylon glorify the power and justice of Abigaille, they wish her happiness and love.
The high priest prepared the capital sentence for the prisoners, including Fenena that has betrayed her Gods. But without the signature of the prosper king, the execution is inoperative. The talk is interrupted with the appearance of Nabucco. Abigaille is revolted, that the madman is let to her chamber.
Abigaille sends all the people away. With lies and sneers she convinces her father of signing the document. Just after he does that, the image of Fenena appears in his mind. He thinks of striking down Abigaille, by opening the secret of her origin. But it doesn’t scare her anymore: who will believe the madman? Abigaille tears the document that certifies her genealogy. Nabucco distressfully experiences his weakness.
The sound of the tube announces of the preparation to the execution. Uselessly broken Nabucco prays the daughter for the forgiveness. But she doesn’t need the belated peace!
On the shore of the Euphrates the Judaic tribes remember of their beautiful forfeited motherland: the High Priest Zaccaria relates about the godsend vision to him about the broken Babylon. The hostile capital will be wiped of the face of the earth, and even the shouts of birds won’t disturb the lifeless silence… the hope revives in the prisoners.
Act 4. The broken idol.
The chamber in the King’s palace in Babylon
The King comes to consciousness after the hard nightmare. Hearing the signals for the beginning of the execution, he looks out the window. He sees the mailed in shackles daughter, and his mind returns to him. Nabucco finds out that he is in prison, where he was confined by his elder daughter. The King vows to renounce from his idols, to erect the altar to the God Jehovah and to devote himself to the glorification of the common God.
The strength is returning to Nabucco. He tells to his guards about his recovery. Seeing their master compos mentis and full of resolution to protect the life of Fenena, they let him go.
Nabucco stops the execution. He demands of breaking the statue of Baal, but it falls by itself. The prisoners see the God’s sign in it. Nabucco and all the present people glorify the greatness of the Jehovah.
Remorseful Abigaille before the voluntary demise asks for apology and asks for forgiveness of sins.
The last king of Judea that reigned in Jerusalem was Zedekiah, that in 558 B.C. when supporting Egypt tried to raise the Antibabbylon revolt. Babyllon’s reaction didn’t keep them waiting. The great Babyllon army at the head of Nabucodonosor besieged Jerusalem. The siege of Jerusalem lasted for 2 years and 7 months. Many inhabitants died from hunger and diseases. In June 9 the breach in municipal walls was done and the Babbyllon’s army dug into the city. The king Zedekiah with his sons and some commanders tried to escape, but they were captured. Zedekiah’s sons were killed, a the king himself was dazzled and sent as a prisoner to Babyllon.
After a month from these events the Babylonians destroyed the city walls and the buildings, burned down the Temple and the King’s palace and destroyed and ransacked religious belongings and king’s riches. Considerable number of the inhabitants was oust from Babyllon. In 586 B.C. Judea, as a state, stopped its existence.
1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
Bol'shaya Dmitrovka Street, 4/2, Moscow, Russia