Mar 132011

Last night, only a month after being fit­ted with a pace­maker and hav­ing facial sug­ery after a fall, went against the wishes of his Chicago doc­tors and con­duc­ted at the Opera. The per­form­ance is one of many cel­eb­ra­tions dur­ing the next week to cel­eb­rate the uni­fic­a­tion of 150 years ago.

Maria Stefan­elli, from the Teatro dell’Opera’s press office said,

His doc­tors abso­lutely for­bid him to con­duct Nabucco in Rome fol­low­ing sur­gery to repair facial injur­ies sus­tained in the fall and to have a pace­maker implanted. They wanted him to have two more weeks of rest. It was very import­ant to him. He wanted to do it at all costs.”

’s Nabucco was premièred in 1842 when Aus­trian rule dom­in­ated the north of Italy. Nabucco tells of the plight of the Jews as they are assaul­ted, conquered, and sub­sequently exiled from their home­land by the Baby­lo­nian King Nabucco (in Eng­lish, Nebuchad­nez­zar). There­fore the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Và, pen­siero, sull’ali dor­ate (Fly, thought, on golden wings), had a par­tic­u­lar res­on­ance at the time, inspir­ing the Itali­ans’ suc­cess­ful drive for unity in 1861. In fact, sur­veys show that most Itali­ans want to adopt “Và pen­siero” as the national anthem.

Before lift­ing his baton, Muti reminded the audi­ence that “Nabucco” was seen at its 1842 début as a pat­ri­otic work aimed at Italy’s unity and iden­tity. And when, unusu­ally for him, he repeated the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, the theatre was on its feet, many singing along with the on-stage chorus.


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