Table of contents Nabucco
Hebrews and the Levites are gathered together in
Salomon’s temple to lament the fate of the Israelites,
who have just been defeated by the Babylonian king
Nabucco, who is about to enter the city at the head
of his victorious army. The high priest Zaccaria
is encouraging the faithful not to abandon hope,
for they hold a valuable hostage: Fenena, Nabucco’s
daughter. Fenena is entrusted to the custody of
Ismaele, nephew to king Sedecia of Jerusalem. Ismaele,
however is in love with Fenena, who had freed him,
at a greater personal risk, when he was held prisoner
in Babylon. He now entends to return the favour.
They are about to leave by a side gate when Abigaille,
whom everyone believes to be Nabucco’s first born
daughter (but is in fact merely a slave), enters
the temple at the head of a band of Babylonian soldiers
disguised as Hebrews. Abigaille declares her love
to Ismaele and offers freedom to all the Hebrews
in return for his love. Ismaele refuses. In the
meantime a crowd of Hebrews, who are being hounded
down by Nabucco’s soldiers, in vain seek refuge
in the temple: the king himself appears on the threshold.
When Zaccaria raises his dagger on Fenena, Ismaele
saves her from death. Nabucco orders the city to
be sacked and the conquered to be put to the sword.
The apartments of the Royal Palace in Babylon.
a document Nabucco had kept secret, Abigaille learns
of her true origins: she is disturbed, but perseveres
in her plans to wreak vengeance on Fenena, to whom
Nabucco has entrusted the throne during his absence
fighting the Hebrews. She contemplates having her
rival murdered, taking over the throne and spreading
the new that Nabucco is dead. She is supported by
the high priest of Bel; Zaccaria prays to the Lord
over the tables of the Law. A chorus of Levites
is heard cursing Ismaele for having saved Fenena;
however she is now converted to the Hebrew religion.
Abigaille is about to carry out her plan when Nabucco
unexpectedly returns. He grasps the crown and declares
himself sole king and god of a people who must adore
him for eternity. At these blasphemous words a thunderbolt
burst over his head and in terror he feels the crown
being snatched from his head by a supernatural force.
A deep silence follows the confusion caused by this
mysterious event. Abigaille takes advantage of it
to pick up the fallen crown and swears that the
"splendor of the poeple of Bel shall never be estinguished".
The Hanging gardens in the Royal Palace in Babylon.
who has proclaimed herself queen, is seated on the
throne to receive the homage of the nobles of the
kingdom in the presence of the High Priest. When
the deranged Nabucco enters, Abigaille uses a trick
to remove his royal seal, for she intends to use
it to ratify the sentence of death on all the Hebrew
prisoners, included the converted Fenena. Nabucco,
realizing too late the trick, protests and orders
Abigaille to prostrate herself before him, slave
that she is.She answers by tearing up the document
that reveal her origins and by consigning him to
the guards. On the banks of the Euphrates, the Hebrews,
condamned to hard working, lament their "beautiful
and lost motherland" and call on the Lord’s help.
Zaccaria encourages them with the solemn prophecy
that wrathful vengeance is going to descend on Babylon.
weaking of a heavy sleep full of nightmares, hears
Fenena’s name from the street. He runs to the balcony
and backs away in terror on seeing his favourite daughter
bound in chains and escorted by soldiers, while all
around her echoes the cries of "Death!". In vain he
tries to leave the palace, only to find himself a
prisoner. Then he knees down in prayer to implore
mercy from the God of the Hebrews. The doors immediately
open and a band of faithful guards enter: he is no
longer a poor madman, for they recognize him as the
rightful king. With acclamations they unsheathe their
swords and follow him to reclaim his crown and free
Fenena. She has already been led with other hebrews
to the sacrificial altar erected in the Hanging Gardens,
when Nabucco and his followers enter. The idol of
Bel is shattered onto fragments and Abigaille, who
has poisoned herself, is dragged on. Nabucco and the
people of Israel give glory to Jehovah and celebrate
their reconquered freedom.