Saturday, 27 February 2010

Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves..

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate known in English as 'Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves' is a chorus from the third act of Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, or Nebuchadnezzar in English), an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1901 an Italian romantic composer. Nabucco follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco).

Known as Verdi's "Jewish" work of art, it recollects the story of these Jewish exiles from Babylon after the loss of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The opera with its powerful chorus established Verdi as a major composer in 19th century Italy. Here we see the chorus performed at New York's Metropolitan Opera House with James Levine conducting.

The lyrics translated in English from the original Italian:

Fly, thought, on wings of gold,
go settle upon the slopes and the hills
where the sweet airs of our
native soil smell soft and mild!
Greet the banks of the River Jordan

and Zion's tumbled towers.
Oh, my country, so lovely and lost!
Oh remembrance so dear yet unhappy!

Golden harp of the prophetic wise men,
why hang so silently from the willows?
Rekindle the memories in our hearts,
tell us about the times gone by!
Remembering the fate of Jerusalem
play us a sad lament
or else be inspired by the Lord
to fortify us to endure our suffering!

(PostScript) The video I posted here originally has been removed from YouTube due to some violation or other. I hope it's nothing to do with the fact that I embedded it here on this blog. Fortunately I was able to find a replica also on YouTube, but the sound quality is not as good. Anyway, I hope you still find it enjoyable..


THERishouldbeAPY said...

Random: some people believe that Igbos are descendants of Jews, that we are one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. When I was in Nigerian a few months ago, I actually saw 2 different synagogues in the VILLAGE! I have a Facebook friend who did a documentary on the topic... very interesting...

Ok, bye :)

Anengiyefa said...

Uhmm, synagogues in the village?? Thats very confusing indeed, but interesting too. So are the Jews of Igboland orthodox? Wouldn't I just love to see Nigerian men wearing side locks and long beards. :)

THERishouldbeAPY said...

Arrrggghhh.... I just found a typo in my previous post; I'm not stupid, I swear!

I hste typod...

Anyway... It’s actually really interesting; they say that those Igbos who actively practice Judaism are very similar to Orthodox Jews, but some differences (the women often cover their heads and the men don’t always wear yarmulkes, sometimes they just were hats or the chief-like caps.) Their appearances vary, though. (check it out on wikipedia) They read and write in Hebrew and also receive aid in the form of books and education from synagogues world-wide.

Supporters of the theory note the similarities in non-Jewish Igbos and Jews like praying before long journeys, abstinence from certain foods and naming/circumcision practices for children. Here is a link to the documentary on the topic: Cool stuff...

Anengiyefa said...

Cool. Am goin to 'ave a look and I'll report back.. :)

Anengiyefa said...

Interesting. I've just been watching some of the video clips on the site and reading the write ups. Its a pity no explanation is provided for the supposed scepticism of the wider international Jewish community towards the said Nigerian Jews. We all know of the Ethiopian Jews and how Israel claimed them. Perhaps if these weren't Nigerians the story might be different? Or is their claim to Jewish ancestry lacking in veracity? Its hard to know without more detailed information, but its a really interesting subject nonetheless. Thanks for the link.

THERishouldbeAPY said...

Yes, unfortunately, I think the fact that Nigerians aren’t being readily invited Mordecai’s bar mitzvah is because 1) they’re Black and 2) they are Nigerian a.k.a. the world’s #1 conmen. Ethiopians *look* like they could be Sephardic or Mizrahi Jews, but Nigerians are just Black and *nobody* wants to be Black, not even Black people. I think that some Jews (understandably) are afraid this is just another scam by Nigerian con artists. Accepting Nigeria Jews would mean accepting that we have a claim to LAND and CITIZENSHIP in Israel; seriously business. Aaaaand, from what I’ve read, some Israelis regard the Jews who emigrated from Ethiopia during Operations Moses and Solomon as “exiles” or “strangers”. Ten years ago, riots ensued after it was discovered that the Magen David Adom (equivalent to a Jewish Red Cross organization) was destroying or refusing blood donated by Ethiopian Jews in Israel. A study conducted in 2009 revealed that over %50 of Israeli employers would prefer NOT to hire Ethiopians.

Also, I read that the Lemba tribes in southern Africa who are shown to have more genetic similarities between them and European Jews than with other Africans; I don’t know if such a test has ever been done on Igbo Jews and their DNA. I want to contact the producer, Jeff Lieberman, and ask him if he’s looked into that; I’d offer myself up for testing :)

My mother doesn’t believe in the theory, but she did tell me that her grandfather had tattoos of the Star of David on his chest and is calves (way before it was hip to do so…) I plan to get the same tattoos, but small ones (the size of U.S. nickels) on my ankles, because I think it’s true. You won’t exactly catch me hangin’ out at the temple on Saturdays, but I think it’s still good to know this part of history.

Ok, I'm done...

Shishir said...


ps....I love the Nabucco Chorus ...also the Gerusalem chorus from I Lombardi

laBiscuitnapper said...

First off, I have to say I wish some of the people in the chorus I'm in right now (Gilbert and Sullivan) could watched that video, especially to see how the chorus there are still acting even whilst being applauded!

Secondly, about the Igbos as long-lost Jews. I think the main reason in this day and age is a lack of genetic evidence which I have been led to believe was there for the Ethiopian Jews (not to mention a lot of architectural similarities, ancient written evidence, though I've only heard of the latter). Not only that, but because anthropologists have recently (err... by that I mean w/in last 100 yrs) been finding that there are a plethora of cultures with such similarities, I think a case built on cultural similarities is often ignored.

Besides, the Igbo 'Creation' tales I was taught always said we had always been there (Biafra) which doesn't match the mythology you'd expect from a - by historical standards that is - dispossessed people.

Ok, now I take my eternal-sceptic hat off!

DEB said...

What a wonderful discussion!

I was born in England to a former Church of England mother and an atheist father. Luckily I attended an all girls grammar school and had Religious Education as a subject till I was sixteen. We had assemblies with hymns and scripture readings. One of the songs we sang in high school was the beautiful song by Verdi. This version was as follows:

Speed your journey, my thoughts and my longings.
Speed your journey through mountain and valley.
Where the sweet scented air breathes a fragrance
Of my home long ago, far away.

Golden harps of the prophets O tell me
Why so silent you hang on the willows?
Once again sing the songs of my homeland.
Sing again of the days that are gone.

We have drunk from the cup of affliction
And have wept bitter tears of repentance.

O Inspire us Jehovah with courage, So that we may endure to the end
So that we may endure to the end
So that we may endure to the end
May endure to the end.

When we sang that song I did not know why I wept. Now I do. I am now approaching sixty and have come to know something of my heritage through genealogical research, through study of the scriptures and through prayer.

First, my maternal grandmother was a Jew, which makes me a Jew genetically.

Second, through my membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints these thirty years I have come to understand that when music moves us to tears it is the spirit of God testifying to us of the truthfulness of his work. Also, through scripture study and prayer I have come to know of myself that all men and women are from the 12 tribes of Israel, no matter where they were born, what color their skin or which language they communicate in.

As a genealogist I have come to know that the saying - "All you have to do is shake your family tree and a Jew will fall our of it!" - is correct.

We are all brothers and sisters belonging to the same great 12 tribes of Israel, who were the sons of Jacob. We were scattered at the Tower of Babel into different lands, given different languages and developed different cultures. Through all that division and diversity we are to develop one faith in the one true God, who is our Heavenly Father.

Thank you for listening.


anne van Tilburg said...

Thank you Deb your post on the 25th of April 2012.
Like you, whenever I listened to this song it pulled at my heart strings. It made me feel sad. I have had this song on a CD. for many years and play it often. I went as far as taking down the words by listening to it over and over and over again.
I am not Jewish, but love the History of the Old Testament and believe we are all children of Adam and Eve and that there is one true God who is our Heavenly
Father. Even though my post is 6 years after yours, I hope you get to read it.