In Verdi's retelling of the Old Testament stories of King Nebuchadnezzar II's religious conversion, King Nabucco's hubris and ambition almost result in him losing his beloved daughter as well as his kingdom.
With the Assyrian army surrounding Jerusalem, the Israelites fear that their city will be taken. However, they have captured Fenena, Nabucco's daughter and heir, and they know he would not risk her life. They hope to bargain with Nabucco to leave their city in exchange for his daughter's safe return.Nabucco will not be so easily defeated, and ferociously threatens the Israelites. In return, Zaccaria threatens to kill Fenena, but Ismaele, in love with Fenena, disarms Zaccaria and releases Fenena into Nabucco's protection. Nabucco calls for his army to destroy the temple.
Meanwhile, Nabucco's other daughter, Abigaille, has found a document revealing she is not Nabucco's daughter, but the daughter of a slave. A jealous and ambitious woman, Abigaille swears vengeance against Nabucco and Fenena, and determines to put herself on the throne. She spreads a rumor that Nabucco has died in battle, but at the moment she is about to be crowned, Nabucco appears. He furiously proclaims death to all the Hebrews. Only then does Fenena reveal the truth; she is a Hebrew, and will die with them. Nabucco cannot believe this betrayal, and demands she obeys him; he is not just king, he is their god.
For this blasphemy, Nabucco is struck with a thunderbolt and driven mad. Abigaille steals the crown from him, and rules in his place. Nabucco only finds his way back to sanity by asking for mercy from the god of the Israelites. His religious conversion enables him to save Fenena from being executed at Abigaille's order.
Nabucco guide sections