Kanye announces Nebuchadnezzar, the opera

Kanye West revealed his first ever opera, Nebuchadnezzar, will be performed at the Hollywood Bowl next week.

The most recent instalment of what some might call “ministry” was revealed via Twitter by posting an image of the golden invite artwork by Nick Knight. The opera will debut on November 25.

“… Culture was my God.” – Kanye West

West’s interest in the biblical character is something he already discussed in an interview with Zane Lowe released last month.

“I thought I was the God of culture,” West told Lowe. “But really culture was my God.”

The star explained how he came to realise that “none of the things that you need to be involved in, in order to be down with the culture” were owned by black people.

Lowe pushed back, noting that West hadn’t mentioned himself yet “a lot of people would argue” that West himself had “been instrumental in driving the culture”.

“God is using me to show off, I believe,” declared West, before going on to explain such a provocative assessment.

Lowe asked: “You saying he wanted the loudest voice and the one who made the most noise, to make the most impact?”

“Yeah, he wanted to show off. He said ‘Now let me take this Nebuchadnezzar-type character’,” replied West, alluding to an Old Testament figure. “Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon and he looked at his entire kingdom and said ‘I did this’.

“And God was like ‘Oh really, you did this?'”

“Sounds kinda similar, right? I’m standing on the tip of the mountain talking about Yeezus saying, ‘I did this’.”

“And I could talk to Jesus at the end of my show. I had someone dressed up as Jesus at the end of my show!” continued West.

Self-described as a recent convert and not a theologian, West understands that Nebuchadnezzar suffered from bipolar. West has the same illness and the artist explained how others have used it as a reason to cut him down and de-platform him.

In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, God still allowed him to be “king”. West compared himself by pointing out he has become a cultural influencer and highly successful business owner.

Nebuchadnezzar is the king whose story is told in the Bible’s book of Daniel. He erected a golden statue of himself and everyone was required to bow down to it in worship. When Daniel and his friends – exiled Israelites – refused, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel survived, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar watched on and said: “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25 ESV)

King Nebuchadnezzar had them pulled out of the fire. They were unharmed. Nebuchadnezzar worshipped their God, saying: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3.28-29 ESV).

I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven

Next, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that Daniel interpreted as a call from God to renounce his sins and be kind to the oppressed. Apparently, he didn’t, because one year later, the king was stripped of his crown and humbled.

Still, he finished strong, saying: “At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendour returned to me. My counsellors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4.36-37 ESV).

Exactly what part of the biblical story will be in West’s new opera is unknown.

Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft will direct the opera and it will feature music by Kanye’s Sunday Service performers, as well as Peter Collins & Infinities Song.

If West has been meditating on the story of the Babylonian king who made the mistake of believing his success was self-earned rather than the result of God’s grace, and who suffered the consequences as a result… well, Eternity thinks that may not be a bad thing at all.