This is truly an historic production, with James Levine at the conductor’s podium and Placido Domingo in the role of Nabucco. For those who do not know the story, it actually ends happily, so stay until the end.

In the interim, however, there is endless suffering and mystery on either side of the temple, which is burned, scorned, restored and embellished with the Bull of Baal.

Nabucco, King of Babylon, attacks and imprisons the Israelites. After pronouncing himself GOD, there is a catastrophic thunderbolt that brings him down and Abigaille, a former slave turned “daughter” to the Babylonian, takes his crown and pronounces herself not only ruler but urges the High Priest to kill the Israelites (and probably everyone else). Her ferocity and intentions to destroy bring the highest tension to the opera as she plots endless destruction.

Meanwhile, the Israelites sing the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” in the second act, which is incredibly famous and often the reason people go to hear the opera (except for the fact that there are many great arias to be enjoyed in this Verdi opera).

On our night the applause was so insistent that the Chorus was performed twice! (I’ve been told this often happens.)

In conclusion, the Babylonian warrior finds his own daughter Fenena again among the Israelites with her beloved Ismaele, and in the end Nabucco converts, frees the hostages and urges everyone to return home. Abigaille (the wicked) takes poison and dies begging forgiveness for her sins.

Now that is the story. The Met Opera has shortened these four acts to TWO, which cuts it down a bit, but there is much repetition of the dialogue and a certain static quality to the sets. (One huge temple lumbers around to give one a “fresh look” at the stage.)

AND certainly, it’s Grand Opera; one should see it!

Barbara Tober


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