The Biblical Accuracy of Nabucco

by aprilmeehl

At my church service Thursday night, my pastor began to read from Jeremiah 25: 1-14. At the end of the first line, he mentioned King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I was shocked to hear the name, considering we had just discussed the plot summary of Nabucco that day in class and the story of king Nebuchadnezzar was the basis for the opera. As my pastor read the bible story, I was reminded of the plot summary in some ways, but I also realized how different it was. Of all the characters in Nabucco, Nabucco, or in English, Nebuchadnezzar, is the only biblical character. Additionally, he is not the one to set the Israelis free at the end; it was actually the Persians who invaded and took over Babylon who freed the Israelis. (

I believe that the story is so different from the biblical one because writers adapt stories to make them more entertaining for the audience. Nabucco sounds extremely intriguing to me; in fact, when I listened to Vanessa discuss the plot line, I was reminded of the soap operas my mom watches.  Our society, and even the society during Nabucco’s time, loves stories revolving around forbidden love and paternity issues, so Verdi may have added these elements to the opera to make it more attractive to his audience.

Today, Nabucco is still being adapted in order to be more applicable to the audience. Verdi originally chose to use the story of the Israelis’ captivity as his basis for the opera because the Israelis’ plight reminded him of his country’s struggles to become a unified state. Similar to this idea, one modern adaptation to Nabucco is set during the Holocaust, where it was a fascist who converted to Judaism rather than Nebuchadnezzar. (  As time goes on and society is faced with other challenges, it will be interesting to see how Nabucco and other operas will be adapted in order to share a common experience with its audience.