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Political and Operatic Mythologies in Contemporary Italy: Lega Nord's "Va Pensiero"

Lecture | October 25 | 5-6 p.m. | 128 Morrison Hall


Marina Romani, Lecturer, UC Berkeley / Contributing Writer, San Francisco Opera

Institute of European Studies, Department of Italian Studies, Department of Music


From operatic Risorgimento fantasies to patriotic myths propagated by the fascist regime, the figure of composer Giuseppe Verdi and of one of his most popular choruses, “Va pensiero,” have become potent receptacles of Italian nationalistic sentiment. One of the most recent displays of cultural re-appropriation is peculiar: since the early 1990s, “Va pensiero” has been claimed as its anthem by Lega Nord—the party which brought their nationalistic and xenophobic “Italians First” (Prima gli italiani) ideology to mainstream Italian politics after the 2018 general elections. Supplanting the official Italian anthem during the party’s political gatherings, the chorus has also inspired the title of one of the Lega’s local newspapers as well as the name of a leghista political list for the 2001 general elections in Italy. However, this appropriation is fraught with a peculiar ideological tension: that between the anthem’s rootedness in the discourse of Italian unification and the obviously sectarian nature of Lega’s politics. In this talk, Dr. Marina Romani brings to light the salient aspects of this seemingly irreconcilable tension.


CA, 5106435799