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January 24, 2009 NATIONALIST CONNOTATIONS IN THE WORKS OF VERDI Nationalism is a nineteenth century creation for there were nations before this era, too. It is an ideology against colonialism and the oppression of certain nations over the others by means of politics and culture. It deals with not human basically but with a concept called “patriotism”. Although Nationalism is an act of gathering one nation together, it lays the seeds of excluding other nations which bears antagonism in itself to a certain degree for each nation holds himself as the superior one(Grove Music). For instance, the style of the Italians and French pleases the Germans very little and that of the Germans hardly pleases the Italians or French although every nation has a style of its own (Grove Music). After the French Revolution, Europe was in turmoil, threatened by the Napoleonic Wars (Kuhn). With a passion to conquer more land like Marlowe’s one extreme character Tamburlaine, Napoleon’s invasion reached Egypt. This nationalist movement is mainly fostered by politics such as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and culture; therefore, it has an impact on multi-national countries to disintegrate; Italy though is a nation that has an old cultural tradition, has broken it into pieces, too. To have a better understanding of this decline for a country which was in the centre of Renaissance for just two centuries ago, it is obligatory to have a look at the eighteenth century. The decrease in both culture and economy has its roots in that era and onwards. As compared to the northern Europe countries such as England, France and Germany, Italy has a low rank among them. This outlook towards Italy complies generally with southern part of Italy, struggling with poverty and volcanic explosions (Deasy). Italian national identity is formed with this juxtaposition of bourgeoisie North and so-called “mezzogiorno” South. During 1830s “Italian identity” as well construes South as “The Other” (Deasy). As a consequence there occurred several ideas to restore Italy’s previous strength. When all nations in Europe are trying to keep itself in unity, Italy underwent a process called “Risorgimento”; resurgence by definition. This age is generally considered over a few decades after 1815-a time when Italy is divided among a multitude of states politically, culturally, economically and dialectically. To keep the momentum continuous, one means to enhance the national consciousness in music – opera in that century. One Risorgimento composer is Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi. He is treated as a national figure with a motto; ‘Viva VERDI’ standing for ‘Viva V ittorio E manuele R e D ' I talia’ (Grove Music) which established him as the second most performed opera composer after Gaetano Donizetti (Stamatov 348). Italian people can easily realize the political connotations lying underneath his operas. His music is so great that even during the
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