Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Nabucco. It was last on stage 15–26 April 2013 as part of the Winter 2012/13 season.
War has broken out between the Babylonians and Israelites. The Israelites have captured Fenena, younger daughter of the Babylonian King, Nabucco. In revenge, Nabucco vows to destroy Jerusalem, aided by the vengeful Abigaille.
Following the spectacular failure of his second opera, Un giorno di regno, Giuseppe Verdi vowed never to compose another. But he was lured back to the theatre by Bartolomeo Merelli, the impresario of La Scala, Milan, with the commission for Nabucco. The resulting opera was a triumph – first performed in 1842, it was revived the same year with a run of 57 shows. As Verdi wrote: ‘with this opera, it can truly be said that my artistic career began.’
Daniele Abbado’s production is set in the second half of the 20th century and makes imaginative use of large-scale video projections to accompany and reflect the action on stage. An enormous chorus lends weight to epic numbers such as ‘Immenso Jehova’ – the Hebrew Slaves’ triumphant hymn of thanksgiving – and their song of exile, ‘Va, pensiero’, which is considered by many to be Italy’s unofficial national anthem. There are wonderful bass and baritone roles in the figures of Nabucco, the Babylonian King (based on the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar), and Zaccaria, the Hebrew prophet. And in Abigaille, Verdi created a memorable anti-heroine, at once terrifying and pitiable. Throughout, the score blends rhythmic vitality and powerful drama, and is on a scale that does justice to the opera’s epic themes.
News and features
30 April 2013
Audience tweets from our cinema relay of Verdi's epic opera, starring opera legend Plácido Domingo.
16 April 2013
Spanish singer and conductor honoured at Freedom ceremony.
2 April 2013
A selection of audience tweets from the first performances of Verdi's epic.
28 March 2013
The Italian baritone on Verdi as a towering figure of Italian art, and his own childhood.
25 March 2013
The Portuguese Stage Director reflects on two years with The Royal Opera.
7 March 2013
Watch our trailer for a new production of Verdi’s biblical epic.
Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, English Nebuchadnezzar) is an Italian-language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based on biblical stories from the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Daniel and the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, although Antonio Cortese's ballet adaptation of the play (with its necessary simplifications), given at La Scala in 1836, was a more important source for Solera than the play itself. Under its original name of Nabucodonosor, the opera was first performed at La Scala in Milan on 9 March 1842.Nabucco is the opera which is considered to have permanently established Verdi's reputation as a composer. He commented that "this is the opera with which my artistic career really begins. And though I had many difficulties to fight against, it is certain that Nabucco was born under a lucky star."It follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered, and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco (in English, Nebuchadnezzar). The historical events are used as background for a romantic and political plot. The best-known number from the opera is the "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves," Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate / "Fly, thought, on golden wings," a chorus which is regularly given an encore in many opera houses when performed today.