In Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. The terrified Hebrews wait the arrival of the conquering Nabucco, the Babylonian King, who is well-known for his cruelty. The high priest Zaccaria has taken Nabucco's daughter Fenena hostage and hopes to use her to bargain with Nabucco. He entrusts her to Ismaele, a young man who has represented his country in Babylon. But the two are in love and would give their lives for each other; they are threatened by the jealousy of Nabucco's elder daughter Abigaille, who is herself in love with Ishmaele. She offers to save the Jewish people, if he will give himself to her. The crowd returns and Nabucco appears with his soldiers. Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena if the temple is violated; but Ismaele saves her by pulling the dagger from Zaccaria's hand. Fenena rushes to her father, who orders the sacking and burning of the temple.
Chisinau National Opera's Nabucco
Part II, Scene I
At the palace in Babylon. Abigaille reads a document that shows she is a slave's daughter. The High Priest of Baal, who is shocked that Fenena is releasing the Jews, arranges for a rumour to circulate that Nabucco has died in battle and that Abigaille should be entrusted with his powers.
Galina Grini as Abigaille and Tatiana Busuioc as Fenena
Part II, Scene II
Elsewhere in the Palace. Zaccaria prays for the gift of prophecy. Ismaele begs for forgiveness but is cold-shouldered, until Zaccaria's sister Anna arrives with the news that Fenena has converted to the Jewish faith. Ismaele is therefore exonerated because he has saved a Hebrew. An old soldier Abdallo arrives, advising Fenena to escape, because the people are calling for Abigaille, following rumours of Nabucco's death. Abigaille enters, demanding the crown, but suddenly Nabucco appears and re-establishes his authority. He announces that he is God, but a thunderbolt hits him. When he recovers, it is clear that he is insane and Abigaille seizes the crown.
Part III, Scene I
At the Hanging Gardens. Abigaille is enthroned. The High Priest advises her to kill all the Hebrews, starting with Fenena. Nabucco enters, helped by Abdallo. Abigaille dismisses everyone else and persuades Nabucco to sign a death warrant; afterwards he realises he has condemned Fenena to death. Abigaille tears up the document that proves she is of lowly birth. Nabucco pleads for mercy but she rejects him and he realises he is her prisoner.
Part III, Scene II
On the Banks of the Euphrates. The Hebrews dream of their homeland. Zaccaria prophesies the fall of Babylon.
Part IV, Scene I
At the Palace. Nabucco sees Fenena being led to her death. When he prays to the God of the Jews, his reason returns and he summons his soldiers.
Part IV, Scene II
In front of the Statue of Baal. Fenena is awaiting her execution; Zaccaria, Ismaele and Anna are also sentenced to death. Zaccaria urges her to die with dignity. Suddenly Nabucco and his soldiers rescue her and he gives the order that the Statue of Baal be destroyed, but before this can happen, the statue destroys itself. The prisoners are freed and told they may return to their homelands. Meanwhile Abigaille, who is filled with remorse, has taken poison. She dies, calling for God's mercy.
Copyright 2001 Duncan Hadfield