This week on the Tuesday Night Opera, Peter van de Graaff continues his celebration of Verdi at 200, with Nabucco.
Tonight’s broadcast features Piero Cappuccilli in the title role, Placido Domingo as Ismaele, Ghena Dimitrova as Abigaille. Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts the chorus and orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
A very interesting footnote: Nabucco‘s famous chorus, “Va, pensiero,” became an anthem for Italian nationalists. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861. 150 years later, Maestro Riccardo Muti was scheduled to conduct Nabucco in celebration of Italy’s 150th. Doctors warned the Maestro not to do the opera, since he had received his pacemaker in Chicago only a month before. Nevertheless, with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in attendance, Muti took the podium.
Typically, Maestro Muti dislikes encores as a disruption to the opera; however, following the famous chorus, someone in the audience yelled, “Viva l’Italia!”
At this point, Maestro Muti turned to chide the Prime Minister for gutting Italy’s funding for the arts. The video tells all, and yes, funding was restored the following day.