Giuseppe Verdiís early masterpiece, Nabucco, first performed in 1842, has been considered by many including the composer himself, to have established his reputation as an opera composer.
I love Verdiís operas but this one has always puzzled me a little: is it really an opera or an oratorio.
Becoming more familiar with it over the last several years, I think it really is an oratorio because:-
(1) Based on the Biblical story about the plight of the Jews under attack from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. In other words, the whole story is a Biblical one, not a secular one.
(2) Arias and chorus have strong religious meanings, which for a listener who is religious might view it as such, no different to oratorios with similar intent.
(3) Although not necessarily an oratorio feature, the extensive use of chorus to paint the mood of nations/peoples and the religious meanings of it when viewed within Biblical themes.
When evaluated using these three criteria, Nabucco is no different to oratorios of other great masters, such as Handel. (Indeed, with Handelís masterpieces, the terms ďdramatic oratoriosĒ have often been used).
The version I have is the DVD Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus under James Levine. And you?
Fellow wise opera lovers, let me know your thoughts!