Note: There are 2 versions of this song. The first is the "pop" version.
Below it is the Original Opera Version By Giuseppe Verdi.
Va' pensiero sull'ali dorate
Va' pensiero sull'ali dorate
From the Opera "Nabucco"
Verdi's first successful opera, Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar), was written in 1842. It relates the Biblical story of the captivity of the Hebrews in Babylon in the 6th century B.C.
In the opera, the chorus "Va, pensiero" (a paraphrase of Psalm 137) is sung by the exiles on the banks of the Euphrates, lamenting the loss of their homeland.
The piece soon became a popular anthem for the Italian people, expressing their own longing for political freedom from Austria.
When Verdi's coffin was carried to its final resting place a month after his death in 1901, the crowd of over 25,000 people along the route spontaneously began singing this stirring chorus.
Va', ti posa sui clivi, sui colli,
ove olezzano tepide e molli
l'aure dolci del suolo natal!
Del Giordano le rive saluta,
di Sionne le torri atterrate.
O mia Patria, sì bella e perduta!
O remembranza sì cara e fatal!
Arpa d'or dei fatidici vati,
perché muta dal salice pendi?
Le memorie del petto riaccendi,
ci favella del tempo che fu!
O simile di Solima ai fati,
traggi un suono di crudo lamento;
o t'ispiri il Signore un concento
che ne infonda al patire virtù
Fly, thoughts, on wings of gold;
As you can see, there are two versions of this song. This eclectic and extremely touching piece from Giuseppe Verdi has been stylized and performed by a multitude of amazing singers and Professional Choirs, in styles ranging from pop to opera.
A small sample of the artists who performed this song include Albano Carisi, Dame Jane Sutherland, Lucio Dalla and Luciano Pavarotti (duet) and Zucchero and Sinead O'Conner (duet).
Late in the 1800's, Austria occupied Northern Italy, Lombardy specifically. They
apparently understood little as they were bemused by the pre-occupation Italians had with music, in particular
Verdi's 'Va Pensiero'. They thought is was quaint and did not attach much importance to it at the time.
On the streets, the walls, they would find scrawled or painted the word VERDI. And so they thought everyone was in love with the composer. In fact, that word was a call to nationhood and spoke to Italian patriotism, but perhaps more to Lombardy re-unification. Because it was not just the song - it was because the name of Verdi was also an acronym for Vittorio Emmanuele Re d'Italia. (Vittorio Emmanuele, King of Italy).
Special thanks to Historian Marzio Apolloni for this intriguing information.
More interesting information
Recently, we received an interesting email from a visitor. Here's the email:
Hello! I would like to inform you that your second translation has an error. The words...."perche muta del salice pendi?" mean simply "Why do you hang silently from the willow?" and nothing else. By the way: for all readers of these words it may be helpful to explain, why at the times of Jewish prisonership harps are hanging from certain trees. I don't know it either!
Naturally, we looked into it. First, we fixed the line in the second Italian version of Va Pensiero (thanks MS!) and then and we did a little research. It turns out that during the time the Jewish people were slaves, they would rather not play the harp than give the beauty of its sound to their captors. So they hung the harps on willow trees. It was also a sign of mourning. You will notice, as we did, that it's no coincidence that the tree they chose to hang their golden harps was the weeping willow. It's a beautiful, yet sad looking tree. I always thought it represented the accumulation of all the frustration of Mother Nature, and her head hanging down was the result of her breakdown. She's beautiful but sad. The weeping willow is the only tree whose leaves drop so dramatically. It's not by chance that an enslaved people would put away their most prized possessions, the beautiful music of the harp...on a weeping tree.
Also, it turns out that the text of Va Pensiero is very similar to Psalm 137.
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