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A real musical "coup de foudre"

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

After the loss of his wife and two children in the space of two years, Verdi decided to end his career as a composer before it had even begun. But Merelli, in a chance meeting near La Scala at the beginning of 1841, sent him the libretto of Solera and convinced him to make one last attempt at composing an opera.

"Merelli, as a friend of mine, convinced me not to give into the despair of mourning and presented me with the text of Nabucco, but I had no desire to be involved with it, at least not at first. The composer, Otto Nicolai, rejected the text, which dealt with a biblical subject from which Temistocle Solera had made a libretto. I didn't even want to read it. One evening, however, while moving it, I dropped it and the page opened to the pages of Va, pensiero... It was like a revelation and the text gave me a sudden shock. I tried to sleep but could not. I reread the text over and over again, and started to set some verses to music... So I ended up setting the whole thing to music.

Nabucco was performed in March 1842 at La Scala in the presence of Donizetti. What can I say? It was a real triumph! This opera would be repeated fifty-seven times between the months of August and November alone, an unprecedented achievement for the Milanese theatre! Over the next three years, it was also performed in Vienna, Lisbon, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and Hamburg; in 1848 it crossed the Atlantic to New York and in 1850 it even reached Buenos Aires. Nabucco marked the rise of my dazzling career, as well as becoming the musical emblem of the Italian Risorgimento and the romantic ideals that animated it... At that time, I also met Giuseppina Strepponi, one of the most popular sopranos of the time, who had already performed in the premiere of Oberto. She interpreted Nabucco in 1942, while we lost ourselves in gazes and mutual feeling. What I did not know, however, was that our bond of love would last for the next fifty years!"

There are people who know a single great love in their lives and remain faithful to it. This is the case of Giuseppe Verdi. After being married, without love, to the daughter of his benefactor, he fell in love with the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, who believed in him and helped him at the beginning of his career. They will always live together until the death of Giuseppina.

By Ada, author of the tour "Giuseppe Verdi. The fertile land of music".

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