Nabucco

Synopsis

Time: 587 BC
Place: Jerusalem and Babylon


Act 1: Jerusalem
'Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I shall deliver this city into the hand of the King of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire' (Jeremiah 21:10)
Interior of the Temple of Solomon

The Israelites pray as the Babylonian army advances on their city (Gli arredi festivi giù cadano infranti / "Throw down and destroy all festive decorations"). The High Priest Zaccaria tells the people not to despair but to trust in God (D'Egitto là su i lidi / "On the shores of Egypt He saved the life of Moses"). The presence of a hostage, Fenena, younger daughter of Nabucco, King of Babylon, may yet secure peace (Come notte a sol fulgente / "Like darkness before the sun"). Zaccaria entrusts Fenena to Ismaele, nephew of the King of Jerusalem and a former envoy to Babylon. Left alone, Fenena and Ismaele recall how they fell in love when Ismaele was held prisoner by the Babylonians, and how Fenena helped him to escape to Israel. Nabucco's supposed elder daughter, Abigaille, enters the temple with Babylonian soldiers in disguise. She, too, loves Ismaele. Discovering the lovers, she threatens Ismaele: if he does not give up Fenena, Abigaille will accuse her of treason. If Ismaele returns Abigaille's love, however, Abigaille will petition Nabucco on the Israelites' behalf. Ismaele tells Abigaille that he cannot love her and she vows revenge. Nabucco enters with his warriors (Viva Nabucco / "Long live Nabucco"). Zaccaria defies him, threatening to kill Fenena if Nabucco attacks the temple. Ismaele intervenes to save Fenena, which removes any impediment from Nabucco destroying the temple. He orders this, while Zaccaria and the Israelites curse Ismaele as a traitor.

 

Act 2: The Impious One
'Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth, it shall fall upon the head of the wicked' (Jeremiah 30:23)
Scene 1: Royal apartments in Babylon

Nabucco has appointed Fenena regent and guardian of the Israelite prisoners, while he continues the battle against the Israelites. Abigaille has discovered a document that proves she is not Nabucco's real daughter, but the daughter of slaves. She reflects bitterly on Nabucco's refusal to allow her to play a role in the war with the Israelites and recalls past happiness (Anch'io dischiuso un giorno / "I too once opened my heart to happiness"). The High Priest of Baal informs Abigaille that Fenena has released the Israelite captives. He plans for Abigaille to become ruler of Babylon, and with this intention has spread the rumour that Nabucco has died in battle. Abigaille determines to seize the throne (Salgo già del trono aurato / "I already ascend the [bloodstained] seat of the golden throne").

Scene 2: A room in the palace

Zaccaria reads over the Tablets of Law (Vieni, o Levita / "Come, oh Levite! [Bring me the tables of the law]"), then goes to summon Fenena. A group of Levites accuse Ismaele of treachery. Zaccaria returns with Fenena and his sister Anna. Anna tells the Levites that Fenena has converted to Judaism, and urges them to forgive Ismaele. Abdallo, a soldier, announces the death of Nabucco and warns of the rebellion instigated by Abigaille. Abigaille enters with the High Priest of Baal and demands the crown from Fenena. Unexpectedly, Nabucco himself enters; pushing through the crowd, he seizes the crown and declares himself not only king of the Babylonians but also their god. The high priest Zaccaria curses him and warns of divine vengeance; an incensed Nabucco in turn orders the death of the Israelites. Fenena reveals to him that she has embraced the Jewish religion and will share the Israelites' fate. Nabucco is furious and repeats his conviction that he is now divine (Non son più re, son dio / "I am no longer King! I am God!"). There is a crash of thunder and Nabucco promptly loses his senses. The crown falls from his head and is picked up by Abigaille, who pronounces herself ruler of the Babylonians.

 

Act 3: The Prophecy
'Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein'. (Jeremiah 50:39)
Scene 1: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Abigaille is now Queen of Babylon. The High Priest of Baal presents her with the death warrant for the Israelites, as well as for Fenena. Nabucco, still insane, tries to reclaim the throne without success. Though his consent to the death warrant is no longer necessary, Abigaille tricks him into signing it. When Nabucco learns that he has consigned his (true) daughter to death, he is overcome with grief and anger. He tells Abigaille that he is not in fact her father and searches for the document evidencing her true origins as a slave. Abigaille mocks him, produces the document and tears it up. Realizing his powerlessness, Nabucco pleads for Fenena's life (Oh di qual onta aggravasi questo mio crin canuto / "Oh, what shame must my old head suffer"). Abigaille is unmoved and orders Nabucco to leave her.

Scene 2: The banks of the River Euphrates

The Israelites long for their homeland (Va pensiero, sull'ali dorate / "Fly thought on golden wings; [Fly and settle on the slopes and hills]"). The high priest Zaccaria once again exhorts them to have faith: God will destroy Babylon. The Israelites are inspired by his words.

 

Act 4: The Broken Idol
'Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.' (Jeremiah 50:2)
Scene 1: The royal apartments, Babylon

Nabucco awakens, still confused and raving. He sees Fenena in chains being taken to her death. In despair, he prays to the God of the Hebrews. He asks for forgiveness, and promises to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and convert to Judaism if his prayers are answered (Dio di Giuda / "God of Judah! [The altar, your sacred Temple, shall rise again]"). Miraculously, his strength and reason are immediately restored. Abdallo and loyal soldiers enter to release him. Nabucco resolves to rescue Fenena and the Israelites as well as to punish the traitors.

Scene 2: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Fenena and the Israelite prisoners are led in to be sacrificed (Va! La palma del martirio / "Go, win the palm of martyrdom"). Fenena serenely prepares for death. Nabucco rushes in with Abdallo and other soldiers. He declares that he will rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and worship the God of the Israelites, ordering the destruction of the idol of Baal. At his word, the idol falls to the ground of its own accord and shatters into pieces. Nabucco tells the Israelites that they are now free and all join in praise of Jehovah. Zaccaria proclaims Nabucco the servant of God and king of kings. Abigaille enters, supported by soldiers. She has poisoned herself. She begs forgiveness of Fenena, prays for God's mercy and dies.

Program and cast

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Alena Klenková
© Alena Klenková
Alena Klenková
© Alena Klenková
Alena Klenková
© Alena Klenková

Slovak National Theatre - SND Historical Building

The Historical Building of the Slovak National Theatre stands on the site of the former city theatre. Commissioned by the Count Juraj Csáky, it stood here as early as in 1776. The current building was built to the design by the architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, opened in 1886. The building in eclectic style is one of many theatre buildings designed by the eminent team of the Vienna-based architects, which dot a number of European cities, including Sofia (Bulgarian), Budapest (Hungary, Karlovy Vary and Brno (Czech Republic), Zürich (Switzerland) or Berlin in Germany (Theater unter den Linden).


The City Theatre Bratislava first staged the stagione theatre performances by German and Hungarian companies. From 1920 it houses The Slovak National Theatre. Until the 1950s it was home to drama, opera and ballet performances. It wasn’t until the opening of the permanent stage for the SND Drama Company that the SND Historic Building became exclusively dedicated to the SND Opera and Ballet.


The listed building, given by the nature of its heritage protection, had to retain its original façade, the interior of the auditorium, the entrance lobby and the salon on the 1st floor. Nonetheless, the auditorium underwent substantial spatial transformation. To provide members of the audience with greater comfort, the transformation also involved reduction of the number of seats. All other areas have been modernised. Central cloak room opened in the basement (beneath the auditorium), cafés on the 2nd floor and smoking rooms on the ground floor and the 3rd floor. Areas on both sides of the stage have been refurbished to serve as changing rooms for the performing artists, wardrobe warehouses, equipment rooms and tuning salons (in the basement). The contemporary annex houses offices dedicated to directors, conductors, prompters, changing rooms, rehearsal rooms and administrative offices used by the SND administration of the SND Opera and Ballet. Three underground storeys are beneath the annex and the adjacent Komenského square: the 2 floor is home to stage decorations warehouse and the 3rd floor consists of two spacious ballet rehearsal halls.

 

 

How to get there


Public transport

All tram lines operate within the walking distance of the SND Historical Building, as do bus lines No: 29, 30, 37, 82, 91, 191 a 901

 

Buses: 

Bus stop within walking distance of the New Bridge / Nový most: 

29, 30, 37, 82, 91, 191, 901 (international line)

Trams: 

Stops adjacent to the SND Historical Building: 

Jesenského, and/or Nám. Ľ. Štúra

Tram lines No 2 (only in the direction from ŽST Nové mesto), 4 (only in the direction from Zlaté piesky), 5 (only in the direction from Rača – Komisárky), 6, 9 (in the direction from Karlova Ves only the stop Jesenského)

Stops within walking distance at the squares Kamenné námestie and Námestie SNP: 

Lines No: 2 (in the direction from Šafárikovo námestie), 3, 4 (in the direction from Dúbravka), 5

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© Alena Klenková
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