Nabucco (1842), Giuseppe Verdi’s third opera, was an immediate success. Yet it very nearly did not originate: the premiere of his second – comic – opera Un giorno di regno (A One-Day Reign) in 1840 was such a flop that the composer, heartbroken from the death of his wife Margherita, wanted to abandon his career as an opera creator. Only with difficulty did the impresario of Milan’s La Scala, Bartolomeo Merelli, persuade the less than thirty-year-old Verdi to set to music Temistocle Solera’s libretto treating an Old Testament theme. Under the command of Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar), the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Temple of Solomon and subjugate the Jewish people. Nabucco, who is punished with madness by Jehovah, has to face machinations on the part of his supposed daughter, Abigaille. He ultimately admits his error and Jehovah’s power and gives the Jews back their freedom. The most impressive aspect of the opera is the mass scenes, one of which, the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves “Va, pensiero, sull’alli dorate” (Fly, thought, upon gilded wings) in Act 3, at the time became the expression of the Italian nation’s desire for independence and – together with the Triumph March from Verdi’s Aida – is among the most famous opera melodies there is. The premiere took place on 9 March 1842 at La Scala with Verdi’s second wife, Giuseppina Strepponi, in the role of Abigaille.