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Michael M. Kaiser President Darrell M. Ayers Vice President, Education

Michael L. Mael Executive Director Francesca Zambello Artistic Advisor Christina C. Scheppelmann Director of Artistic Operations

Costume sketch for audience members from Verdi’s time

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT... ■

“Va, pensiero” (the chorus from Act III) became a second national anthem for Italian revolutionaries in 1842. After the performance, identify elements of the song that seem particularly patriotic. Verdi was known as a master of drama. How does he use his music to set a mood or create an atmosphere? Are there specific instruments that seem to be connected to certain things, actions, or people? (Hint: think drums and thunderbolts) One of Verdi’s favorite authors was William Shakespeare. Does the “mad king” Nabucco remind you of any Shakespearean characters? Which ones?

WHAT TO LISTEN AND WATCH FOR... ■

The way many of the arias (songs) and scenes start out slow but soon pick up speed. This was part of an Italian opera tradition in the mid-19th century. How the actors and actresses playing people from the 1840s behave onstage. Which of these figures are meant to be Austrians and which are meant to be patriotic Italians? How can you tell? How certain characters (particularly Abigaille) often sing several quick notes in a row when they are nervous, vengeful, or angry. This type of singing is known as coloratura (kuhl-er-ah-TOOR-ah) and was a favorite technique of the day.

GIUSEPPE VERDI’S

Nabucco Libretto by Temistocle Solera Directed by Thaddeus Strassberger Conducted by Philippe Auguin

Generous support for WNO Italian opera is provided by Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello. Additional support for Nabucco is provided by The Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts. Support for Washington National Opera education programs is provided by JPMorgan Chase Foundation; The Morningstar Foundation; Jacob & Charlotte Lehrman Foundation; National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs; and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

www.kennedy-center.org/artsedge Cuesheets are produced by ARTSEDGE, an education program of the Kennedy Center. ARTSEDGE is a part of Thinkfinity.org, a consortium of free educational Web sites for K-12 teaching and learning.

Does absolute power corrupt us? Nabucco answers this question with the story of a Babylonian king who believes he’s invincible, but soon discovers his brutal actions have tragic consequences. The opera also revels in the spirit of revolution by glorifying the plight of Nabucco’s oppressed Hebrew slaves—a defiant people who believe in hope against all odds.

Learn more about Education at The Kennedy Center at www.kennedy-center.org/education The contents of this Cuesheet do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement from the Federal Government. © 2012 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Please recycle this Cuesheet by sharing it with friends!

David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of WNO. Performances for Young Audiences is made possible by

Costume drawings by Mattie Ullrich for the Washington National Opera

PERFORMANCE GUIDE

David M. Rubenstein Chairman

Cuesheet

WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA D R E S S R E H EAR SAL


About Verdi’s

Nabucco ACT I

MAIN CHARACTERS Nabucco, King of Babylon* Abigaille, his assumed daughter Fenena, his daughter Zaccaria, a Hebrew priest Ismaele, a Hebrew *Though “Babylon” and “Assyria” are used interchangeably in the opera, these were two separate kingdoms in the Tigris and Euphrates valley.

THOUGH THE STORY of Nabucco is based on a French play revolving around a king of biblical legend who ruled from approximately 604–562 BCE, the opera is as much about Italian history as it is about ancient history. Written during a time when Austria occupied Italian territories, the opera features themes of rebellion and reflects the growing desire for independence that swept through Italy in the 1840s.

As King Nebuchadnezzar II (pronounced neh-boo-kahd-NEHZZ-er, known in Italian as Nabucco, nah-BOO-koh) advances on Jerusalem, the Hebrew priest Zaccaria (zahk-ah-REE-ah) tells the worshippers not to despair: The Hebrews have captured Nabucco’s daughter, Princess Fenena (feh-neh-NAH). Fenena, however, is secretly in love with her Hebrew guard, Ismaele (eez-mah-EH-leh), whose life she once saved. When the two are alone, Ismaele tries to free Fenena, but Fenena’s vengeful sister, Abigaille (ah-beeghi-EE-leh), interrupts. Abigaille admits she too loves Ismaele and offers to save his people if he will love her in return. Ismaele refuses just as Nabucco arrives, declaring victory. Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena, but Ismaele saves her. Nabucco, however, shows no mercy—the temple is burned and the Hebrews are imprisoned.

ACT II While Nabucco continues fighting abroad, Abigaille discovers she is not the king’s real daughter, but rather a child of Babylonian slaves. Yet, when rumor spreads that Nabucco is probably dead and that Fenena— supposedly in charge during Nabucco’s absence—is releasing the Hebrew captives, Abigaille vows to protect the kingdom. Just as Fenena has converted and become a Hebrew, Abigaille barges in demanding Fenena’s crown. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Nabucco enters and claims the crown as his own, and boldly pronounces himself a god on earth. Suddenly, lightning strikes his head, rendering him instantly mad. Abigaille then takes the crown promising to maintain Babylon’s glory. Costume sketch for Fenena

ACT III As the Babylonians try to persuade Abigaille that the Hebrew slaves should be killed, Nabucco stumbles in, ranting and raving. Abigaille calms him by claiming she is only guarding the throne, and slyly convinces him to sign an order to execute the Hebrews. Nabucco remembers that Fenena is now a Hebrew and begs Abigaille to spare his daughter. Abigaille reminds him he has another daughter (herself), but he disowns her, saying she is only a slave. Abigaille angrily destroys the proof of her birth and puts Nabucco in prison. The act ends as the Hebrews gather to remember their homeland.

ACT IV Nabucco regains his sanity only to hear Fenena being led to her death. In desperation, he prays to the God of Israel and promises to become a Hebrew if only he can escape and free his daughter. At that moment, loyal soldiers burst through the prison door to rescue their king. Nabucco rushes to save Fenena—but will he be too late? The destinies of both Babylon and Jerusalem hang in the balance.

ABOUT GIUSEPPE VERDI Born near Busseto, Italy, Giuseppe Verdi (1813– 1901) rose from humble beginnings to become a giant in the field of opera, composing more than two dozen works for the stage. His political affiliations and love for his country also led his music to become symbolic of the “Risorgimento” (the 19th-century movement for Italian freedom), making him one of the revolutionary idols of his time. Today, his operas—including La Traviata, Il Trovatore,

Costume sketch for Abigaille

Note: This production captures the opera as it would have appeared at its premiere in 1842. So, while the main characters are dressed in biblicalera costumes, other performers play the roles of 19th-century Europeans watching and listening along with you.

Rigoletto, and many more—are among the most performed in the world.

ABOUT WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA Originally founded in 1956, Washington National Opera (WNO) ranks as one of today’s largest American opera companies. As an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, WNO presents several operas each year at the Kennedy Center Opera House and performs throughout the city, offering training and enrichment programs year-round. To learn more about opera visit www.kennedycenter.org/artsedge and click the tag “opera.”


About Verdi’s

Nabucco ACT I

MAIN CHARACTERS Nabucco, King of Babylon* Abigaille, his assumed daughter Fenena, his daughter Zaccaria, a Hebrew priest Ismaele, a Hebrew *Though “Babylon” and “Assyria” are used interchangeably in the opera, these were two separate kingdoms in the Tigris and Euphrates valley.

THOUGH THE STORY of Nabucco is based on a French play revolving around a king of biblical legend who ruled from approximately 604–562 BCE, the opera is as much about Italian history as it is about ancient history. Written during a time when Austria occupied Italian territories, the opera features themes of rebellion and reflects the growing desire for independence that swept through Italy in the 1840s.

As King Nebuchadnezzar II (pronounced neh-boo-kahd-NEHZZ-er, known in Italian as Nabucco, nah-BOO-koh) advances on Jerusalem, the Hebrew priest Zaccaria (zahk-ah-REE-ah) tells the worshippers not to despair: The Hebrews have captured Nabucco’s daughter, Princess Fenena (feh-neh-NAH). Fenena, however, is secretly in love with her Hebrew guard, Ismaele (eez-mah-EH-leh), whose life she once saved. When the two are alone, Ismaele tries to free Fenena, but Fenena’s vengeful sister, Abigaille (ah-beeghi-EE-leh), interrupts. Abigaille admits she too loves Ismaele and offers to save his people if he will love her in return. Ismaele refuses just as Nabucco arrives, declaring victory. Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena, but Ismaele saves her. Nabucco, however, shows no mercy—the temple is burned and the Hebrews are imprisoned.

ACT II While Nabucco continues fighting abroad, Abigaille discovers she is not the king’s real daughter, but rather a child of Babylonian slaves. Yet, when rumor spreads that Nabucco is probably dead and that Fenena— supposedly in charge during Nabucco’s absence—is releasing the Hebrew captives, Abigaille vows to protect the kingdom. Just as Fenena has converted and become a Hebrew, Abigaille barges in demanding Fenena’s crown. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Nabucco enters and claims the crown as his own, and boldly pronounces himself a god on earth. Suddenly, lightning strikes his head, rendering him instantly mad. Abigaille then takes the crown promising to maintain Babylon’s glory. Costume sketch for Fenena

ACT III As the Babylonians try to persuade Abigaille that the Hebrew slaves should be killed, Nabucco stumbles in, ranting and raving. Abigaille calms him by claiming she is only guarding the throne, and slyly convinces him to sign an order to execute the Hebrews. Nabucco remembers that Fenena is now a Hebrew and begs Abigaille to spare his daughter. Abigaille reminds him he has another daughter (herself), but he disowns her, saying she is only a slave. Abigaille angrily destroys the proof of her birth and puts Nabucco in prison. The act ends as the Hebrews gather to remember their homeland.

ACT IV Nabucco regains his sanity only to hear Fenena being led to her death. In desperation, he prays to the God of Israel and promises to become a Hebrew if only he can escape and free his daughter. At that moment, loyal soldiers burst through the prison door to rescue their king. Nabucco rushes to save Fenena—but will he be too late? The destinies of both Babylon and Jerusalem hang in the balance.

ABOUT GIUSEPPE VERDI Born near Busseto, Italy, Giuseppe Verdi (1813– 1901) rose from humble beginnings to become a giant in the field of opera, composing more than two dozen works for the stage. His political affiliations and love for his country also led his music to become symbolic of the “Risorgimento” (the 19th-century movement for Italian freedom), making him one of the revolutionary idols of his time. Today, his operas—including La Traviata, Il Trovatore,

Costume sketch for Abigaille

Note: This production captures the opera as it would have appeared at its premiere in 1842. So, while the main characters are dressed in biblicalera costumes, other performers play the roles of 19th-century Europeans watching and listening along with you.

Rigoletto, and many more—are among the most performed in the world.

ABOUT WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA Originally founded in 1956, Washington National Opera (WNO) ranks as one of today’s largest American opera companies. As an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, WNO presents several operas each year at the Kennedy Center Opera House and performs throughout the city, offering training and enrichment programs year-round. To learn more about opera visit www.kennedycenter.org/artsedge and click the tag “opera.”


Michael M. Kaiser President Darrell M. Ayers Vice President, Education

Michael L. Mael Executive Director Francesca Zambello Artistic Advisor Christina C. Scheppelmann Director of Artistic Operations

Costume sketch for audience members from Verdi’s time

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT... ■

“Va, pensiero” (the chorus from Act III) became a second national anthem for Italian revolutionaries in 1842. After the performance, identify elements of the song that seem particularly patriotic. Verdi was known as a master of drama. How does he use his music to set a mood or create an atmosphere? Are there specific instruments that seem to be connected to certain things, actions, or people? (Hint: think drums and thunderbolts) One of Verdi’s favorite authors was William Shakespeare. Does the “mad king” Nabucco remind you of any Shakespearean characters? Which ones?

WHAT TO LISTEN AND WATCH FOR... ■

The way many of the arias (songs) and scenes start out slow but soon pick up speed. This was part of an Italian opera tradition in the mid-19th century. How the actors and actresses playing people from the 1840s behave onstage. Which of these figures are meant to be Austrians and which are meant to be patriotic Italians? How can you tell? How certain characters (particularly Abigaille) often sing several quick notes in a row when they are nervous, vengeful, or angry. This type of singing is known as coloratura (kuhl-er-ah-TOOR-ah) and was a favorite technique of the day.

GIUSEPPE VERDI’S

Nabucco Libretto by Temistocle Solera Directed by Thaddeus Strassberger Conducted by Philippe Auguin

Generous support for WNO Italian opera is provided by Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello. Additional support for Nabucco is provided by The Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts. Support for Washington National Opera education programs is provided by JPMorgan Chase Foundation; The Morningstar Foundation; Jacob & Charlotte Lehrman Foundation; National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs; and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

www.kennedy-center.org/artsedge Cuesheets are produced by ARTSEDGE, an education program of the Kennedy Center. ARTSEDGE is a part of Thinkfinity.org, a consortium of free educational Web sites for K-12 teaching and learning.

Does absolute power corrupt us? Nabucco answers this question with the story of a Babylonian king who believes he’s invincible, but soon discovers his brutal actions have tragic consequences. The opera also revels in the spirit of revolution by glorifying the plight of Nabucco’s oppressed Hebrew slaves—a defiant people who believe in hope against all odds.

Learn more about Education at The Kennedy Center at www.kennedy-center.org/education The contents of this Cuesheet do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement from the Federal Government. © 2012 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Please recycle this Cuesheet by sharing it with friends!

David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of WNO. Performances for Young Audiences is made possible by

Costume drawings by Mattie Ullrich for the Washington National Opera

PERFORMANCE GUIDE

David M. Rubenstein Chairman

Cuesheet

WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA D R E S S R E H EAR SAL


Nabucco: Washington National Opera Dress Rehearsal