Ismail Pasha Hires & Endorses Pro-Zionist Composer, Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi wrote his famous opera Nabucco in 1841. It was first performed at the La Scala in Milan in 1842. The opera contains the following lyrics in the famous aria Va, Pensiero. These lines recognize the Jews' yearning for their homeland and their right to it.
O Thought, go on gilded wings;
Go, alight on slopes and hills
Where the sweet breezes of our native soil
Waft scents warm and soft!
Greet the banks of the Jordan,
And the thrown down towers of Zion.
O my homeland so beautiful and lost!
O memory so dear and fateful!
O Golden Harp of prophetic seers,
Why do you hang mute from the willow tree?
Rekindle memories in our breasts,
Speak to us of the times that were!
[translation by Eliyahu m'Tsiyon]
va, ti posa sui clivi e sui colli
ove olezzano tepide e molli
l'aure dolci del suolo natal!
Del Giordano le rive saluta,
di Sionne le torri atterrate.
Oh, mia patria sí bella e perduta!
Oh, membranza sí cara e fatal!
Arpa d'or dei fatidici vati
perché muta dal salice pendi?
Le memorie nel petto raccendi,
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 virtu!
Verdi was commissioned to compose Aida by the ruler (Khedive) of Egypt, Isma’il Pasha for the then enormous sum of 150,000 [gold] francs. The commission was not to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal but rather to mark the opening of a new opera hall in Cairo. The libretto was written by Antonio Ghislanzoni based on a plot developed by Auguste Mariette, the foremost Egyptologist of the era. He based the plot on his historical research of the Upper Nile valley. The première was planned for January 1871. However it was delayed by the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and finally took place in Cairo on December 24, 1871 where it was met with enthusiastic acclaim. Aida’s European première took place at La Scala in Milan on February 8, 1872. Given its success in Cairo and Milan, Aida productions were quickly mounted throughout Italy in the following years. It was premièred in New York in 1873, in St. Petersburg in 1875, and in both Paris and London in 1876. [see here]Here is background on Nabucco:
. . . an Italian-language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based on the Biblical story and the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, although Antonio Cortese's ballet adaptation of the play (with its necessary simplifications), given at La Scala in 1836, was a more important source for Solera than the play itself. Under its original name of Nabucodonosor, the opera was first performed at La Scala in Milan on 9 March 1842. [here]
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12-15-2014 Here is a good performance of the Hebrew Slaves Chorus (Va, Pensiero).
NOTE: The name Solyma for Jerusalem is used in Greek and probably comes from Salem which in ancient Hebrew was probably pronounced Sholem [Shawlem-- the vowel qomets had a different sound then than in modern Hebrew. It was like how the Ashkenazim and Yemenites traditionally pronounced it.]. In Greek we also have the name Hierosolyma for the city, hiero meaning holy. So the Greeks may have seen the name as meaning Holy Solyma.