Nabucco | Welsh National Opera

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SummaryBack to top

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Production

When Nabucco is struck by lightning he proclaims himself to be a god. Others think he is a mad man, a tyrant, yesterday’s news, a father and possibly even a liberator. In the final reckoning how will Nabucco be judged?

Best known for ‘Va, pensiero – The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’, Nabucco is a rich treasure by the young Verdi that all fans of his work will want to discover. Nabucco is the operatic equivalent of a 1950s biblical Hollywood epic with its rousing, soaring score. We are delighted to present Nabucco once again as the company who re-introduced it to British audiences a century after it was last performed on these shores. Rudolf Frey's production set in the modern day puts the WNO Chorus at the heart of the drama. Nabucco will send you home humming the tunes and tapping your feet for days to come.

Supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust, WNO Partners and the Nabucco Circle.

Cast & CreativeBack to top

Conductor Xian Zhang 
Director Rudolf Frey
Set Designer Ben Baur
Costume Designers Silke Willrett and Marc Weeger
Lighting Designer Tim Mitchell
Choreographer Beate Vollack

Cast includes
Nabucco David Kempster
Abigaille Mary Elizabeth Williams
Zaccaria Kevin Short
Fenena Justina Gringyte
Ismaele Robyn Lyn Evans
High Priest James Platt

StoryBack to top

The Hebrews pray to God for protection from the Babylonians, who are at the gates of the temple, led by their king, Nabucco. Zaccaria, the High Priest of the Hebrews,  holds a vital hostage: Nabucco’s daughter, Fenena. Leaving her in the care of the Hebrew prince, Ismaele, Zaccaria leads his people into battle.

Fenena and Ismaele fell in love when she helped to secure his release from prison in Babylon. Now he is determined to set her free. As they plan their escape, Nabucco’s other daughter, Abigaille, breaks in with a band of Babylonian soldiers disguised as Hebrews. Abigaille also loves Ismaele and offers to save the Hebrew people if he will love her in return. He refuses.

The defeated Hebrews are pursued by the Babylonians. As Nabucco is about to enter the Temple, Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena if he commits this sacrilegious intrusion. Ismaele intervenes and disarms Zaccaria. With his daughter safe, Nabucco orders the destruction of the Temple. The Hebrews are driven into exile.

Abigaille has found a document that proves that she is not Nabucco’s daughter, but the child of a slave. She swears vengeance against the king and against Fenena, whom Nabucco has appointed as regent while he is still embroiled in the war against the Hebrews. The High Priest of Baal brings news to Abigaille that Fenena has set the Hebrews free. He and his followers have spread a rumour that Nabucco has died in battle and he urges Abigaille to seize the throne.

Zaccaria intends to convert Fenena to the Jewish faith. The Hebrews attack Ismaele for his betrayal of them but are astounded to discover that Fenena has been converted.

As the High Priest of Baal and Abigaille attempt to usurp Fenena’s position as regent, Nabucco returns unexpectedly. He spurns the gods of both Baal and the Hebrews and declares that he himself is the only true god. At these words he is struck down and driven mad. Abigaille seizes power.

The demented Nabucco interrupts the celebrations of Abigaille’s accession to the throne. She taunts her father and tricks him into signing a warrant for the execution of Fenena and the Hebrews. When he realizes what he has done, Nabucco begs Abigaille to show mercy, but she refuses. He attempts to find the document that proves her lowly birth but she produces it herself and tears it up in front of him.

Nabucco sees Fenena being led to her execution and prays to the god of the Hebrews for help and forgiveness. He is restored to sanity and goes to rescue his daughter.

Fenena and the condemned Hebrews resign themselves to death but Nabucco arrives just in time to save them. He gives orders to destroy the image of Baal and, proclaiming his conversion to their faith, promises the Hebrews that he will rebuild the Temple.

Abigaille has taken poison, but before she dies she begs the god of the Hebrews for forgiveness. Zaccaria returns the crown to Nabucco.

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ReviewsBack to top

'A stupendous chorus and excellent cast were the real winners, supported with admirable pace and panache by conductor Xian Zhang’s WNO Orchestra.' **** The Independent Read more