There undoubtedly have been many great composers in Italy such as Palestrina, Puccini, Rossini, Donizetti, Vivaldi yet it is perhaps Verdi who is the most representative of Italian patriotism as well as “il Risorgimento”. It even being his name or the spelling of his name which was used as an acronym to proclaim Vittorio Emanuele king of Italy, something which in fact was forbidden at the time yet to get around this decree many took to writing “Viva Verdi”. This not so much as a declaration of admiration for the composer of so many a great opera but to claim “Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re D’Italia” in a manner in which they could get away with as they could simply declare they were praising Verdi and not making illegal political statements. It, of course being obvious that there intensions were not such and would be understood (at least by some) as a political statement but then again they had not broken any laws by claiming to admire Verdi even if there true intensions were completely diverse.
For my part, being both Italian American as well as an opera fan, I can truly say I am an admirer of Verdi’s music yet I ask the following question; as do many historians. Did Verdi’s works in fact have as much to do with the Risorgimento as some would go on to claim after the composers death? This of course being a matter of debate. As some have come to doubt with a good amount of reason that his works which were reinterpreted as being a part of the Risorgimento with revolutionary messages; may in fact not have been intended as such by either Verdi himself or his librettist.
Of course, it can be said that the aria “Va, Pensiero” from the opera Nabucco did manage to capture a patriotic feeling in Italy in its time for its haunting melody. It being this opera which shows the hardships of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt which many interpreted perhaps wrongly as a comparison to the situation Italians found themselves in at the time of these opera’s release. This perhaps being the reason why Verdi’s name is associated with the Risorgimento yet I must declare that I do feel a certain patriotic emotion in Verdi’s music which perhaps was not so much intended as such yet it is there for those who wish to feel it. This being the case with most art that it can be interpreted in many ways. All depending on one’s point of view and how one reacts to it yet perhaps even for those who listen to it from a natural perspective; they will find something symbolic. This perhaps not so much of the politics of the time but of culturally unifying people which perhaps indirectly led to their doing so as a nation.
I, for my part would like to say “Viva Italia” to all Italians through out the world weather they be Italian born or simple descend from the great culture and tradition that is Italy. It being my wish on to them that on this particular day, they may celebrate with pride the joy that all should take in their heritage. Naturally, what ever that maybe with the certainty that there is something wonderful in every culture which should be cherished not only by those who are a part of it but by all of humanity. For after all, as different cultures we can come together to create one single humanity; rich in its diversities.