Tag Archives: Va pensiero

Music Monday: Nabucco

<em>Nabucco</em> (2002): Photo: Robert Millard

Nabucco (2002): Photo: Robert Millard

To say that Nabucco put Giuseppe Verdi on the map is a vast understatement. The opera – a telling of the Biblical story of Jewish oppression by the Babylonians – saved his career. After his first opera, King for a Day, failed miserably (and also after he lost his wife and two children), Verdi was ready to give up composing. But La Scala manager Bartolomeo Merelli slipped him the libretto for Nabucco. Once Verdi read the lyrics to “Va pensiero,” he knew that this would be his next project. Nabucco became one of Verdi’s most famous operas, reigniting his career as a composer capable of creating rapturous, nationalistic sound, so vastly different from the more melodic Bellini or frenetic Donizetti. In 1901, at Verdi’s funeral, crowds of mourners sang “Va pensiero,” in his honor.

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