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Theatre / Nabucco

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A performance of Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera.

This 1842 number by Giuseppe Verdi is a four act opera, set to a libretto by Temistocle Solera, and based on the biblical account of the exile of the Jews into slavery by the King of Babylon, Nabucco, better known in English as Nebuchadnezzar.

This opera contains examples of:

  • A God Am I: At the end of Act II, Nabucco declares himself a god. A bolt of lightning promptly strikes him and drives him insane, which lasts until he performs his Heel–Faith Turn and worships the God of Israel.
  • Adapted Out: Despite the opera being based on an episode from the Book of Daniel, the said prophet plays no part of the story let alone appears.
  • Adoption Angst: Abigaille discovers she's not Nabucco's biological daughter and she was instead the child of slaves. She doesn't take it well at all.
  • Antagonist Title: Nabucco is the titular antagonist, the king of Babylon. Subverted at the half-point when Nabucco begins his Heel–Face Turn and Abigaille solidifies herself as the true antagonist.
  • Badass Preacher: Zaccaria, the Jewish High Priest, who isn't above taking up a weapon and openly defies Nabucco even while in captivity.
  • Blasphemous Boast: In Act II, Nabucco declares that he has surpassed both Baal and Jehovah, and demands that he be worshipped as a God, going so far as force his own daughter to prostrate herself. It doesn't end well.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Nabucco declares himself the one true god and is promptly driven mad by phantoms.
  • Cain and Abel: Ambitious (and therefore evil) Abigaille and the younger Fenena, albeit Not Blood Siblings.
  • Converting for Love: Nabucco's younger daughter Fenena, who falls in love with Ismaele and converts to Judaism.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Abigaille is Nebucco's ambitious adopted daughter, who is willing to resort to deceit and bloodshed to claim the throne.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Ismaele, the young commander of the good guys who's also involved in a romance with Nabucco's younger daughter, is seemingly set up as the protagonist at the beginning, but later on the focus switches to Nabucco himself after he recovers from his Heel–Faith Turn.
  • Determinator: Zaccaria. No matter what Nabucco does to him and the Jews, he never gives up.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Genocidal warlord he may be, but when Nabucco learns that Abigaille intends to have his daughter Fenena executed, he pleads for her life, declaring she may have his throne and his kingdom, if she only spares Fenena.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Eventually, Abigaille ascends the throne, and proves herself to be even more ruthless than her father.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: By Act IV, Nabucco himself.
  • High Priest: The cult of Baal is led by a high priest who uses his connections to create political unrest.
  • Human Sacrifice: Fenena is threatened with sacrifice to Baal for converting to Judaism.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: In line with opera conventions, the ensemble isn't a major player and just serves to accompany the leads and/or provide context to what is essentially the tale of Nabucco and his daughters. This being said, the chorus "Va, pensiero" is the best-known number from this opera.
  • Papa Wolf: Nabucco himself, at least where Fenena is concerned. In the opening scene, he threatens to wipe out the entire Hebrew race should his captive daughter come to harm, and later, this is the trait which drives his Heel–Faith Turn.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Nabucco begs for Fenena's life when she is about to die.
  • Religion of Evil: The cult of Baal is presented as a bloodthirsty lot which practices Human Sacrifice.
  • Yandere: Abigaille. She loves Ismaele, but Ismaele is in love with Fenena. Furious, Abigaille threatens to accuse Fenena of treason, but Ismaele refuses to do so, thus leading to Abigaille's plan for revenge.