Nabucco, indeed, is a veritable leap in the launching of his career who from that moment on met with great success. Nabucco is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The opera revolves around the biblical story and the play by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu.
Nabucco was staged for the first time on March 9, 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan under the original name 'Nabucodonosor'. Later on in 1844, the definitive name for the opera and the protagonist were ascribed at a performance at the San Giacomo Theatre of Corfu. The most popular number from this opera is Hebrews' Chorus, Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate, in English 'Fly, thought, on golden wings'.
Considering the fact that everything that could have turned out to be wrong contributed in a positive sense, Nabucco was born under a favorable star. This is how Giuseppe Verdi speaks about his third opera. After the success of the first opera by Verdi, the impresario of the Milanese theatre Bartolomeo Merelli signed him through a contract. Verdi was asked to compose two operas to be staged in the following seasons. The second opera of the young composer did not garnered the same attention as did the first, and was performed only once.
This is not surprising considering the fact that between 1838 and 1840 Verdi's world was torn apart by the death of his wife and two children. The pain due to the loss of his loved ones and the unsuccessfulness of his last opera drove him to the decision of never writing an opera again. During this time, Merelli didn't lose faith in Verdi instead confirmed his faith to him.
It was really due to Merelli that Verdi began to write new operas. One winter evening the two of them met up on the street and the impresario handed over him a manuscript of a new libretto by Temistocle Solera. The manuscript earlier had been refused by the German composer Nicolai. Verdi had no intention of reading it. As soon as he read a verse, it awakened his curiosity: 'Va' Pensiero sull'ali dorate'. He was very fascinated and spent the night reading the libretto, reaching the point where he almost knew the text off by heart. Merelli urged the composer to put it to music.
Destiny had taken its course once again. The verses of Solera had already entered into Verdi's heart. Day after day he found the strength to compose the notes. Nabucco was complete by the autumn of 1841. The irony was that the impresario appeared to be hesitant to insert the new opera in the poster for the carnival-lent season of 1841. Merelli advised Verdi to wait until the spring as it not only involved a risk for everyone but the theatre had had to sustain a lot of expenses for the scenes and costumes of Nabucco. The opera was eventually fixed for the beginning of March.
The cast included various important artistes such as the baritone Giorgio Ronconi, who played the role of Nabucco and the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, who played the role of Abigaille. On March 9th 1842, the Milanese public attended the first show of the opera and was completely captivated. The Immenso Jehovah obtained the most generous applause. The opera was performed seventy five times before the end of the year and the enthusiasm of the spectators grew at every performance. Va' Pensiero became the most hit air of the Opera.
Nabucco was indeed an unprecedented success for Verdi which revealed his true talent in all its glory. From this Opera onwards the young man, Giuseppe Verdi, from Bussetto headed towards the career which allowed him to become one of the most admired musicians of his era.
Frequently Asked Questions