Italian #opera: Nabucco, the opera that launched Verdi’s career

Image from Wikimedia commons is in the public domain
Image from Wikimedia commons is in the public domain

Nabucco is widely considered to be the opera that launched the spectacular career of Giuseppe Verdi. Based on a synopsis I read, this opera captures the voice of the ancient Hebrews and their struggle as exiles. In fact, it speaks with the voice of all exiles. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia, destroys the Temple and forces the Hebrews from their homeland. During the opera, the audience follows their journey as they are taken into bondage, and feels their grief. Will they survive in this new land or will they perish? And can love between two people endure in such a place?

Nabucco(short for Nabucodonosor, English Nebuchadnezzar) is an Italian-language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based on the Biblical story and the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, although Antonio Cortese’s ballet adaptation of the play (with its necessary simplifications), that was presented at La Scala in 1836, was likely a more important source for Solera than the play itself, according to the references in Wikipedia. Under its original name of Nabucodonosor, the opera was first performed at La Scala in Milan on March 9, 1842.

One of the highlights of the opera is the famous chorus “Va pensiero,” which expresses the Hebrew slaves’ longing for their homeland. It is moving and intense.

Click the link on this page to listen to a brief English translation followed by the chorus:

The production of this opera by the Florida Grand Opera opens this weekend and they will have performances in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and it promises to tug at the heartstrings since the story itself and Verdi’s stellar music combine to involve the audience.

Ci vediamo all’opera, Lina

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