Original Lyrics of “Va pensiero” in the Opera Nabucco

“Va pensiero” is the Hebrew slave chorus from Act III of the opera Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi.

Who wrote the original lyrics for “Va, pensiero”?

Va, pensiero opera poster
Va, pensiero opera poster

The lyrics of the famous choir chorus were written in Italian by Temistocle Solera (1815 – 1878).

Click here to download a poster of the original lyrics as written by T. Soler.

PDF Poster of the original lyrics as written by T. Soler. (1,030.2 KB)

Click to hear the original lyrics sung by the K&K Opernchor and K&K Philharmoniker and performed at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany under the musical direction of Myron Yusypovych (Myron Jussipowitsch).

What inspired Temistocle Solera to write the lyrics?

“Va pensiero”, the slave chorus was inspired by Psalm 137 from the Old Testament of the Bible. In the Eastern Churches, it is marked as Psalm 136.

King James’ Version Catholic Bible
137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept; when we remembered Sion.
137:2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. On the willows in the midst thereof we hung up our instruments.
137:3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. For there they that led us into captivity required of us the words of songs. And they that carried us away, said: Sing ye to us a hymn of the songs of Sion.
137:4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?

The libretto for the opera Nabucco was written based on the French language play Nabucodonosor (Nabuchodonosor) by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, as well as by the ballet Nabuccodonosor by Antonio Cortesi.

Neither the play, nor the ballet have the scene of the Hebrew slaves. This addition, based on Psalm 137, is entirely T.Solera’s