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Nabucco is the opera that brought Giuseppe Verdi back from the brink. He had been ready to give up composing for good.
What was it that made Verdi's Nabucco such a pivotal piece in his career? It was by no means solely the critical failure of his previous opera, Un Giorno di Regno, that was responsible, either. After all, Verdi had endured the worst of times not long before. As well as the death of both his children, he had lost his wife.
The public hammering over Un Giorno di Regno saw Verdi inside his agent’s office, telling him his musical career was over. Suddenly envisaging the death of Italian opera or his 10 per cent, or both, the agent proffered a copy of a libretto by a writer named Solera. "Read it,"he begged him. The story goes that Verdi read it on his journey home and by the time he had arrived at his house, the words ‘Va, pensiero’ (‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’) had captured his imagination. He was back. And when the opera was a smash in Milan in 1842, its name clipped from Nabucodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar) to simply Nabucco, then he was back with a vengeance!