Kanye West premiered his opera production “Nebuchadnezzar” Sunday that is based on the biblical account of the Babylonian king in the book of Daniel which shows his transition from a wicked, self-declared ruler to a believer in God.
“Nebuchadnezzar,” the opera, premiered Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The production was directed by Vanessa Beecroft and featured singer Peter Collins, and the group Infinity’s Song, as well as West’s popular gospel choir the Sunday Service collective, according to a press release.
“West conceived of this opera as an expression of his commitment to both his faith and ever-expanding musical palette. Nebuchadnezzar brings together elements from different worlds, including opera, fine art, modern dance, and gospel music, to create an innovative performance structure. West’s sound is the bridge between these art forms,” the statement added.
Several reports on Sunday’s performance said West was not the focal point of the opera and he wasn't even seen by the audience until the end at the final bow. The fashion guru and hip-hop artist instead served as the narrator for the performance which started two hours behind schedule.
TMZ reported that Brad Pitt was among the celebrities in the packed audience.
“While the majority of the music from Nebuchadnezzar was new and original, familiar music from Kanye’s catalog was peppered into the operatic and choral performances. The hook from his Life of Pablo song “Wolves” was sung by the choir and prominently featured in the second half. Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” and the 808s & Heartbreak song “Say You Will” were also listed in the setlist Kanye tweeted before the show began. Other titles included “Eternal Rest,” “Our King,” and “Wash Us in the Blood,” Pitchfork reported about some of the music used in the opera.
Before West created his record-breaking Christ-centered album Jesus Is King, he had compared himself to King Nebuchadnezzar. In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music’s Beats 1, he compared his Yeezus Tour to his ego crazed side of the Babylonian king.
“[God] is saying, Let me take this Nebuchadnezzar-type character — Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, and he looked at his entire kingdom and said, I did this,” West said, adding, “I stood on the top of the mountain talking about Yeezus, saying, ‘I’m a God’ — I had a guy dressed as Jesus.”