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Nabucco - plot of the Opera

After the flop of his opera "Un giorno di regno" the young compositor Giuseppe Verdi rushes himself into the decision of changing career and not writing music anymore. In this early giving up, Verdi is firmly opposed by Merelli who, despite the flop, does not allow him to stop writing and soon after forces him to read a libretto by Temistocle Solera that Otto Nicolai, the future author of "Le allegri comari di Windsor", had refused.
The title of the opera is Nabucodonosor and fills Verdi with enthusiam but he confirms his decision not to compose anymore by bringing the manuscript back to the impresario at the theatre, who in turns puts it back in Verdi's pocket and with energy pushes the poor composer out of his office.
Five months pass, and eventually Verdi sits at his piano and faces the difficult task of composition, starting from the very end of the opera, the aria of Abigaille's death. In August the opera is already completed and on 9th March 1842 it is performed at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan: soprano Giuseppina Strepponi is Abigailla, baritono Giorgio Ronconi the male protagonist and basso Prosper Dérivis is Zaccaria. The performance is a huge success. It is only due to the end of season that no more than eight replicas are performed. With the new season beginning on 13th August 1842, the opera goes on for fifty-seven replicas until the end of the year.
In the following years the opera is performed at a huge number of theatre in Italy and some abroad. It is in one of those. Saint James Theatre in Corfù, that in September 1844 the name of the protagonist and the title of the opera permanently changed to Nabucco.
The great audience at the Opera in the Arena - Verona
Temistocle Solera had adapted his libretto from the homonymous drama by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, performed in 1836 at the Ambigu-Comique in Paris, and also from the homonymous dance that coreoghapher Antonio Cortesi had composed in 1838 for La Scala in Milano.
Inside Jerusalem Temple, the Levites and the people moan the sad fate of the Jewish, defeated by the king of Babylon Nabucco, who is now approaching the city. The high priest Zaccaria conforts his people. The Jewish are holding hostage Nabucco's daughter, Feneca, whose custody is assigned by the king to Ismaele, nephew of the king of Jerusalem. It is him who promises the woman to free her, because some time ago in Babylon he, as a prisoner, was given his freedom back by her. 
The two are organizing their escape when Abigaille, believed to be Nabucco's daughter, arrives in the temple. The woman too is in love with Ismaele and threatens Feneca to reveal her father her attempt to escape with a foreigner; eventually, she accepts to keep this secret if Ismaele agrees not to see Feneca anymore. The young man refuses to be blackmailed. As leader of the army Nabucco arrives in the city, determined to sack it. Zaccaria tries invain to stop him by brandishing a knife over Fenena's head, because Ismaele interferes in Fenena's help, giving her back safe to her father. In the meanwhile, in Babylon's court, Abigaille finds out about a document that reveals her identity as a slave, thus meaning that the Babylonians wrongly believe she's the king's heiress. While fighting in war Nabucco appoints Fenena as regent of the city and as a consequence Abigaille hates her still more. 
The High Priest of Baal, Abigaille's ally, reveals that Fenena is giving freedom to all Jewish slaves. Abigaille sees this as a change to sit on Nabucco's throne. Zaccaria announces proudly to his own people that Ismaele's love converted Fenena, who is now following the Jewish religion. The woman is informed by Adaballo, old counsel of the king, about Abigaille's ambitions and is advised to leave the town to escape her rival's anger. But it's too late: Abigaille arrives with he Magi, the high priest and a crowd of Babylonians. Unexpectedly, Nabucco makes his appearance in town wearing the crown, cursing the Jewish God and threatening to kill Zaccaria. 
Nabucco scenography in the Arena

When Fenena reveals her conversion, he replies forcing her to knee and adore him not as a king but as a god. Nabucco is punished for his insolence: the Jewish god sent a thunder that hits Nabucco who falls down, deadly injured, while Abigaille puts the all-desired crown on her head. In the hanging gardens of Babylon's court Abigaille can eventually sit on the throne and be honoured by all the authorities of the kingdom while Nabucco tries without result to have his crown back, but he's stopped by the guards. Nabucco and Abigaille have the chance to talk and the woman, taking advantage from the man's instable mental conditions, succeeds in having the royal stamp of death sentence marked on him. In a rare moment free from insanity, Nabucco understands that he involuntarily has sentenced to death his own daughter Fenena and invain ask for her salvation. Not only she doesn't agree to save Fenena, but Abigaille also shreds the only document that states her identity as slave, proclaming herself as the only daughter and heiress. She orders to the guard to imprison Nabucco. From his jail Nabucco can see Fenena among the Jewish sentenced to death and in a desperate attempt he converts. 
When they see him recovering and gaining new strenght, Abdallo and some warriors still faithful to the king decides to revolt lead by the old king. While the Jewish sentenced to death are lead to their execution and Zaccaria is about to bless Fenena as a martyr, Nabucco arrives, the Idol of Baal shatters into pieces, the prisonners are given freedom and Nabucco is back on his throne. In order to escape her father's anger Abigaille takes a poison and when she's about to die she asks for forgiveness to Fenena and wishes her a wedding with Ismaele. In the end, Zaccaria predicts Nabucco's domain over all the people on Earth.


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