Nabucco is the opera which made Verdi the voice of the Italian people. Its theme of an oppressed people's yearning for freedom touched a responsive chord in the Italy of 1842. The stirring passion of Verdi's score proved irresistible in a country increasingly resentful of Austrian rule. "Va pensiero", the great chorus of longing, sung by the exiled Hebrews on the banks of the Euphrates, has become one of the best-loved of operatic melodies, and for Italian patriots in the middle of the 19th century, the chorus quickly became an anthem. The background to the opera is historical: set during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco), King of Babylon. The fictitious characters are Nabucco's daughters, Abigaille and Fenena, who are rivals for the love of Ismaele, nephew of the King of Jerusalem. There is also a powerful bass role for Zaccaria, a Hebrew priest, who brings about the conversion of Nabucco. This performance was recorded at Verona, where the huge open-air Roman Arena provides a magnificent setting for this well-loved and spectacular epic. Opera in four acts, conducted by Maurizio Arena.