Verdi Lovers Unite To Sing For Royal Opera House
words by Carol King
To kickstart the bicentennial anniversary celebrations of Romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi’s birth, London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden invited people from across the globe to film themselves singing ‘Va Pensiero’ (Fly Thought) and share their clips online.
The prestigious venue asked for people to listen to a rendition of Verdi’s well-loved Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from ‘Nabucco’ sung by Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, sing along and upload their video to YouTube. The opera house advised participants that if they forgot the words, they were “free to hum along instead.”
The Royal Opera House asked for submissions from interesting locations and received them from as far afield as the Sydney Opera House and the gardens of the Kyoto Imperial Palace in Japan. Other highlights included entries from the prolific Indonesian-American artist Maestro Wenarto, admired by fans throughout the world for the passion and joy he shares through his performance of opera and popular songs, and celebrated British author Will Self, who was notable for his deep baritone rendition.
The best submissions were selected and transmitted live on 7 January as part of the Royal Opera Live streaming day, which aimed to give people an unprecedented glimpse into life behind the scenes with the Royal Opera. As well as the ‘Va Pensiero’ challenge, the event featured a live chorus rehearsal for the opera house’s new production of ‘Nabucco’, interviews and insights direct from Covent Garden. The live stream was watched by viewers around the world, and featured comments and contributions from as far away as Mongolia, Korea, South Africa, Australia, the USA and Brazil.
The Royal Opera House has also commissioned British composer Elspeth Brooke to write a piece of music inspired by ‘Va Pensiero’. She will incorporate the best moments into her new work, which will premiere later in 2013.