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Encyclopedia > Nabucco

Nabucco is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on the biblical story and the play by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu. Its first performance took place on March 9, 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The best-known number from this opera is Hebrews' Chorus, "Va' pensiero, sull'ali dorate" ("Fly, thought, on golden wings"). Sydney Opera House: one of the worlds most recognizable opera houses and landmarks Opera refers to a dramatic art form, originating in Europe, in which the emotional content or primary entertainment is conveyed to the audience as much through music, both vocal and instrumental, as it is through the... Giuseppe Verdi, by Giovanni Boldini, 1886 (National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome). ... A libretto is the complete body of words used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, sacred or secular oratorio and cantata, musical, and ballet. ... Temistocle Solera (December 25, 1815 – April 21, 1878) was an opera composer and librettist. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... March 9 is the 68th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (69th in Leap years). ... 1842 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... La Scala The Teatro alla Scala (or La Scala for short), in Milan, Italy, is one of the worlds most famous opera houses. ... Milan (Italian: Milano; Milanese -dialect of Lombard-: Milán) is the main city of northern Italy, and is located in the plains of Lombardy, the most populated and developed region in Italy. ...

Contents


History

The opera, Verdi’s third, is considered to be the one that permanently established his reputation as a composer. Nabucco follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco (in English, Nebuchadnezzar). Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu (bāb-ilû, meaning Gateway of the god, translating Sumerian Kadingirra), an ancient city in Mesopotamia (modern Al Hillah, Iraq). ... Nebuchadnezzar (or Nebudchadrezzar) II (ca. ...


Following the critical and public failure of his second opera Un giorno di regno, Giuseppe Verdi considered giving up opera. As a teacher, he fared no better; he left his post earlier in disgust as director of the Music School of Busseto after the Music Conservatoire of Milan rejected him. At the same time, other Italian contemporaries like Rossini and Donizetti were passing him by and becoming internationally famous. Realizing that the proceeds from the first and subsequent productions of his first opera Oberto would not last him forever, Verdi was unsure how to continue making a living in Milan. Un giorno di regno, ossia il finto Stanislao (A One-Day Reign, or the false Stanislas) is an opera in two acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play Le faux Stanislas by Alexandre Vincent Pineu-Duval. ... Milan (Italian: Milano; Milanese -dialect of Lombard-: Milán) is the main city of northern Italy, and is located in the plains of Lombardy, the most populated and developed region in Italy. ... Portrait Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (February 29, 1792 – November 13, 1868) was an Italian musical composer who wrote more than 30 operas as well as sacred music and chamber music. ... Gaetano Donizetti Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti (29 November 1797 – 8 April 1848) was a famous Italian opera composer. ... Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio is an opera in two acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on a libretto by Antonio Piazza. ...


Bartolomeo Merelli, the impresario of the Teatro alla Scala, approached Verdi with a new manuscript titled Nabucodonosor (later Nabucco) by Temistocle Solera (the librettist of his first opera), which was based on a play of the same name written by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu. Merelli had already approached the Prussian composer Otto Nicolai about composing the music but was turned down in favor of working on the opera Il proscritto (a move Nicolai later regretted). Verdi rejected Merelli as well but kept the manuscript with him. Verdi describes his decision to accept as a swift and dramatic one, in that he "threw the manuscript onto the table almost violently" and "read the libretto not once but two or three times so that by morning & hellip;[he] knew the whole of [the] libretto [...] by heart". This is likely exaggerated; the decision was a more cautious one, made over the course of days or weeks. Nabucco was finished by the autumn of 1841 at the latest. Unlike Oberto, which took three years for a theatre to agree to a performance, Nabucco’s production started March 1842, six months after completion. The opera premiered on March 9, 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Because a ballet based on the same play had been produced at that same theatre some months before, Verdi's opera reused many of the props and sets from then. Giorgio Ronconi (baritone) played Nabucco, Corrado Miraglia (tenor) played the king of Jerusalem Ismaele, Giuseppina Strepponi (soprano) Nabucco's adopted elder daughter Abigaille, and Giovannina Bellinzaghi (soprano) Nabucco's younger daughter Fenena. An impresario is a manager or producer in one of the entertainment industries, usually Music or Theatre. ... La Scala The Teatro alla Scala (or La Scala for short), in Milan, Italy, is one of the worlds most famous opera houses. ... Temistocle Solera (December 25, 1815 – April 21, 1878) was an opera composer and librettist. ... Libretto can also refer to a sub-notebook PC manufactured by Toshiba. ... The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 The word Prussia (Old Prussian: PrÅ«sa, German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian: PrÅ«sai, Latin: Borussia) has had various (often contradictory) meanings: The land of the Baltic Prussians (in what is now parts of southern Lithuania, the Kaliningrad... take you to calendar). ... Look up March in Wiktionary, the free dictionary March is the third month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. ... 1842 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... March 9 is the 68th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (69th in Leap years). ... 1842 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... In music, a baritone (from Greek βαρυτονος deeply, heavily sounding) is a male voice of intermediate pitch, between bass and tenor. ... In music, a tenor is a male singer with a high voice (although not as high as the modern countertenor). ... Jerusalem (; Hebrew: Yerushalayim; Arabic: al-Quds, Greek Ιεροσόλυμα), the capital of Israel, is an ancient Middle Eastern city on the watershed between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea at an elevation of 650-840 meters. ... Look up Soprano in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Critical reaction

Verdi commented that, "[w]ith this opera, my artistic career may be said to have begun". He was right: Nabucco was an instant success, dominating Donizetti and Pacini operas playing nearby. While the public went mad with enthusiasm, the critics tempered their approval of the opera.


Amusingly, one critic who found Nabucco revolting was Otto Nicolai, the composer to whom the libretto was offered first. A thoroughly Prussian-bred man, Nicolai felt at odds with emotional Italian opera while he lived near Milan. After refusing to accept the libretto proposal from Merelli, Nicolai began work on another offer called Il Proscritto. Its disastrous premiere in March 1841 forced Nicolai to cancel his contract with Merelli and flee to Vienna. From there he learned of Nabucco's success and was enraged. "[Verdi's operas] are really horrible", he wrote. "He scores like a fool — technically he is not even professional — and he must have the heart of a donkey and in my view he is a pitiful, despicable composer … ". Additionally, he described Nabucco as nothing but "rage, invective, bloodshed and murder." Look up March in Wiktionary, the free dictionary March is the third month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. ... take you to calendar). ...


Nicolai's opinions were in the minority, however, and he has today become comparatively obscure. Nabucco secured Verdi's success until his retirement from theatre, sixteen operas later.


Music historians have long perpetrated a powerful myth about the famous "Va, pensiero" chorus sung in the third act by the Hebrew slaves. Scholars have long believed the audience, responding with nationalistic fervor to the slave's powerful hymn of longing for their homeland, demanded an encore of the piece. As encores were expressly forbidden by the government at the time, such a gesture would have been extremely significant. However, recent scholarship puts this and the corresponding myth of "Va, pensiero" as the national anthem of the Risorgimento, to rest. Although the audience did indeed demand an encore, it was not for "Va, pensiero" but rather for the hymn "Immenso Jehova," sung by the Hebrew slaves to thank God for saving his people. In light of these new revelations, Verdi's position as the musical figurehead of the Risorgimento has been correspondingly downplayed. Today, "Va, pensiero" is regularly given an encore when performed; interestingly, it is the only encore Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has ever allowed. The encore is an additional extra performance of a musical piece at the end of the regular concert, which is not listed in the event setlist. ... Italian unification, also known as Risorgimento (resurrection), was a historical process by which the Kingdom of Sardinia (ruled by the Savoy dynasty with Turin as its capital) gradually conquered the Italian peninsula, including the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Duchy of Modena, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy... Italian unification, also known as Risorgimento (resurrection), was a historical process by which the Kingdom of Sardinia (ruled by the Savoy dynasty with Turin as its capital) gradually conquered the Italian peninsula, including the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Duchy of Modena, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy... The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, seen from Lincoln Center Plaza A full house at the old Metropolitan Opera House, seen from the rear of the stage, at the Metropolitan Opera House for a concert by pianist Józef Hofmann, November 28, 1937. ... James Levine (born June 23, 1943) is an American orchestral conductor and pianist. ...


Synopsis

All events occur during 587 BC. Centuries: 7th century BCE - 6th century BCE - 5th century BCE Decades: 620s BCE - 610s BCE - 600s BCE - 590s BCE - 580s BCE - 570s BCE - 560s BCE - 550s BCE - 540s BCE - 530s BCE Events and trends 585 BCE - Zhou jian wang becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China. ...


Part One: Jerusalem


'Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I shall deliver this city into the hand of the King of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire' (Jeremiah 21:10)


Interior of the Temple of Jerusalem


The Jews are being defeated and Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar) is poised to enter Jerusalem. The High Priest Zaccaria tells the people not to despair but to trust in God. The presence of a hostage, Fenena, younger daughter of Nabucco, may yet secure peace. Zaccaria entrusts Fenena to Ismaele, nephew of the King of Jerusalem and a former envoy to Babylon. Although Fenena and Ismaele love each other and left alone, Ismaele urges her to escape rather than risk her life. Nabucco's elder daughter, Abigaille, storms into the temple with soldiers in disguise. She, too, loves Ismaele. Discovering the lovers, she threatens Ismaele: if he does not give up Fenena, Abigail will accuse her of treason. The King himself enters ('Viva Nabucco'). Zaccaria defies him, threatening to kill Fenena with a dagger. Ismaele intervenes to save her. Nabucco responds by ordering the destruction of the temple, and the Jews curse Ismaele as a traitor.


Part Two: The Unbeliever


'Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth, it shall fall upon the head of the wicked' (Jeremiah 30:23)


Scene 1: The Palace in Babylon


Nabucco is away at the wars and has appointed Fenena as regent. Abigaille has discovered a document that proves she is not Nabucco's real daughter, but a slave. The High Priest of Baal, accompanied by the Magi, comes to tell Abigaille that Fenena has released the Jewish captives. Their response is to launch a coup to put Abigaille on the throne, while spreading a rumour that Nabucco has died in battle.


Scene 2: A hall in the Palace in Babylon


Fenena is converted to the Jewish religion, and Ismaele is reconciled to the Jews. However it is announced that the King is dead and Abigaille and the High Priest of Baal demand the crown from Fenena. Unexpectedly, Nabucco himself enters, scorning both sides, both Baal and the Hebrew god that he has defeated. He declares himself God. When Zaccaria objects, Nabucco orders the Jews to be put to death. Fenena says that she will share their fate. Repeating that he is now god ('Non son piu re, son dio'), Nabucco is promptly hit by a thunderbolt and loses his senses. The crown falls and is picked up by Abigaille.


Part Three: The Prophecy


'The wild beasts of the desert shall dwell in Babylon, and the owls shall dwell therein'. Jeremiah


Scene 1: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon


The High Priest presents Abigaille with the death decree for the Jews and Fenena. Nabucco enters looking like a mad man, claiming his throne. Abigaille persuades him to seal the decree, but he asks that Fenena be saved. He tells Abigaille that she is not his true daughter but a slave. Abigaille mocks him, destroying the document with the evidence of her true origins. Understanding that he is now a prisoner, he pleads for Fenena's life. Abigaille exults.


Scene 2: Banks of the River Euphrates


The Jews long for their homeland ('Va pensiero, sull'ali dorate'). Zaccaria once again exhorts them to have faith: God will destroy Babylon.


Part Four: The Shattered Idol


'Baal is confounded, his idols are broken in pieces.' Jeremiah


Scene 1: The Palace in Babylon
Nabucco awakens, his strength and his reason fully regained. He sees Fenena in chains being taken to her death. Asking forgiveness of God, he promises to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and follow the true faith. Joined by loyal soldiers, he resolves to punish the traitors and rescue Fenena.


Scene 2: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
As the Jews and Fenena prepare for death on the sacrificial altar of Baal, Nabucco rushes in, sword in hand. At his word the Idol of Baal shatters into pieces. Nabucco tells the Jews they are free. A new Temple will be raised to their God. Abigaille enters. She has poisoned herself. She expresses her remorse, asks the forgiveness of Fenena and dies. Zaccaria acclaims Nabucco as the servant of God and the King of Kings.


[This synopsis by Simon Holledge was first published on Opera japonica http://www.operajaponica.org and appears here by permission.]


Orchestration

It is scored for two flutes (one doubling as piccolo), two oboes (one doubling as English horn), two clarinets, two bassoons, four French horns, two trumpets, three trombones (two tenor, one bass), one cimbasso, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, side drum, triangle, two harps, strings, and an onstage band. The Flute (Ger. ... A Yamaha piccolo. ... Modern Oboe The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... Cor anglais The cor anglais or English horn is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... Two soprano clarinets: a Bâ™­ clarinet (left) and an A clarinet (right, with no mouthpiece). ... A Fox Instruments bassoon. ... The horn is a brass instrument consisting of tubing wrapped into a coiled form. ... Trumpeter redirects to here. ... A lip-reed aerophone with a predominantly cylindrical bore, the trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. ... The Cimbasso is a brass instrument in the trombone family, with a bright sound. ... A timpanist in the United States Air Forces in Europe Band. ... A bass drum is a large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch. ... It is also possible that you want to know about the Cymbalum instrument. ... The snare drum or side drum is a tubular drum made of wood or metal with skins, or heads, stretched over the top and bottom openings. ... The triangle is an idiophonic musical instrument of the percussion family. ... The harp is a stringed instrument which has its strings positioned perpendicular to the soundboard. ... A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. ...


Average performance time is 2 hours, 15 minutes plus one intermission.


References

  • Budder, Julian. The Operas of Verdi. Vol. 1. London: Cassell Ltd, 1973. 89–-112.
  • Parker, Roger. Nabucco. Retrieved May 22, 2005.

External links


 
 

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