Giuseppe Verdi

Nabucco (Nabucodonosor), opera

    Description by Anne Feeney

    Nabucco was Verdi's first great success. It is linked not only with the composer's history but also with the history of Italy. The "hit tune," the chorus "Va, pensiero," (Fly, my thoughts) became the unofficial hymn of Italian national liberation and reunification, and even today almost holds the status of national anthem. It was so strongly associated with Verdi that the crowds at his funeral procession spontaneously began to sing it as the cortege passed through the crowded streets of Rome.

    Verdi at this time in his life was deeply discouraged and unhappy, due both to personal tragedy and to a lack of musical success, and it was the impresario Merelli who forced the libretto upon him. When Verdi tossed the text on a table, intending to have nothing to do with it, it opened at the words "Va, pensiero," and he read it, and then read the rest; at their next meeting, Merelli was able to persuade Verdi to continue his musical career with a setting of this libretto. So it's not that surprising that this one section has somewhat overshadowed the rest of the work, but the whole has as much to offer as this one part.

    Abigaille is notorious as a killer role for the soprano daring enough to take it on -- the voices it is said to have ruined include that of Giuseppina Strepponi, Verdi's lover and later his wife -- but the rewards it offers are enough to tempt many a singer. The role has one of opera's most dramatic entrances, a beautiful aria and stunningly forceful cabaletta, a striking duet with Nabucco, and a death scene that can steal the show. Even Abigaille's recitatives are full of energy and virtuosic effect; one contains a two-octave leap to a high C. The role of Nabucco runs the gamut of emotions, from haughty belligerence to tender paternal love to insanity to humble faith in the God of the Hebrews, expressed in highly effective, if not yet completely individualized music. Zachary is the musical and dramatic predecessor to Procida in I Vespri Siciliani. Driven by patriotic fervor, he emerges in music that alternates between stirring exhortation, religious reflection, and hints of the single-minded ferocity that was to emerge again still later in Ernani and in the Inquisitor in Don Carlo.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. No. 2, Gli arredi festivi
    3. No. 3a, Sperate, o figli!
    4. No. 3b, D'Egitto là sui lidi,
    5. No. 3c, Come notte al sol fulgente
    6. No. 4a, Fenena! O mia diletta!
    7. No. 4b, Io t'amava!
    8. No. 5, Prode guerrier!
    9. No. 6, Lo vedeste?
    10. No. 7a, Viva Nabucco!
    11. No. 7b, Che tenti? Oh trema insano
    12. No. 7c, Tremin gl'insani
    13. No. 8a, O vinti, il capo
    14. No. 8b, Mio furore
    15. No. 9a, Ben io t'ivenni o fatal scritto!
    16. No. 9b, Anch'io dischiuso un giorno
    17. No. 9c, Salgo già del trono
    18. No. 10a, Vieni, o Levita!
    19. No. 10b, Tu sul labbro de veggenti
    20. No. 11a, Che si vuol?, Chorus
    21. No. 11b, Il maledetto non ha fratelli, Chorus
    22. No. 12a, Deh, fratelli
    23. No. 12b, S'appressan gl'istanti
    24. No. 12c, S'oda or me!
    25. No. 13, E l'Assiria una regina
    26. No. 14, Eccelsa Donna
    27. No. 15, Donna, chi sei?
    28. No. 16, Oh, di qual'onta aggravisi
    29. No. 17, Deh, perdona
    30. No. 18, Va pensiero, sull'ali dorata [Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves]
    31. No. 19a, Oh, chi piange?
    32. No. 19b, Del futuro nel buio discerno
    33. No. 20, Son pur queste mie membral
    34. No. 21, Dio di Giuda! l'ara e il tempio
    35. No. 22, Cadran, cadranno I perfidi
    36. No. 23a, Marcia funebra
    37. No. 23b, Va! la palma del martirio
    38. No. 23c, Oh, dischiuso e il firmamento
    39. No. 24a, Viva Nabucco!
    40. No. 24b, Oh! chi vegg'io?
    41. No. 24c, Su me... morente

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2017
    Warner Classics
    9029584470
    2017
    Warner Classics
    563926
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295844462
    2016
    Urania
    WS 121293
    2016
    Warner Classics
    555536 P
    2014
    Bongiovanni
    HOC 07980
    2013
    Sony Classical
    88883721202
    2013
    United Classics
    T 2CD2012126
    2013
    Gala Records
    7705977
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099941674
    2012
    Cetra / Warner Classics
    2564661558
    2012
    IDIS
    IDIS 6630
    2011
    Decca
    2011
    Decca
    001615302
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099945644
    2009
    Myto Historical Line / Myto Records
    00222
    2009
    Ponto [Mitridate]
    2001
    2009
    Decca
    4781717
    2008
    CLA
    10060
    2008
    Naïve
    V 5158
    2008
    Decca
    4780984
    2008
    Kultur
    4348
    2007
    EuroArts
    2056228
    2007
    Preiser Records
    20049
    2007
    Opera D'Oro
    7031
    2005
    Myto Records
    51305
    2003
    Aura Classics
    1106
    2003
    Hardy Classic
    6009
    2002
    Real Sound (RS)
    25
    2002
    Gala Records
    589
    2002
    Living Stage
    35144
    2002
    Warner Fonit
    82646
    2001
    Fono Enterprise
    1033-34
    2000
    Urania
    100
    2000
    Archipel
    1
    1998
    Delta Distribution
    11540
    1998
    Golden Melodram
    20010
    1997
    Opera D'Oro
    1130
    1996
    Koch Schwann
    6427
    1995
    Mercury
    434345
    1995
    Sony Music Distribution
    68468
    1995
    Sony Music Distribution
    67180
    1995
    Pantheon
    6757
    1992
    Deutsche Grammophon
    435415
    1990
    EMI Music Distribution
    47488
    1986
    Decca
    417 407-2DH2
    1983
    Deutsche Grammophon
    410512
    Various Artists
    Delphine
    27084
    Enterprise
    944
    Foyer Records
    2095
    Golden Melodram
    26029
    Chandos
    3136
    Fonit-Cetra Italia
    26
    Opera Italia
    4
    Pantheon
    6650.51
    Great Opera Performances
    751
    Pantheon
    6650
    Companions Classics
    111
    Grammofono 2000
    78962