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Senator wants to change Italy's national anthem – to opera

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MILAN, ITALY – What Italy needs, in these times of crisis, is more opera.

Or at least that's what Italian Senator Umberto Bossi seems to suggest. Mr. Bossi, leader of the Northern League party, a major partner in the conservative government, has proposed abolishing the current national anthem, a 19th century military march, and switching to something a little more melodic: “Va Pensiero,” a popular aria from Giuseppe Verdi's opera masterpiece “Nabucco.”

“Nobody understands the lyrics anyway,” says Bossi of the current anthem, known as Fratelli d'Italia, (Brothers of Italy), by obscure composer Goffredo Mameli. But "Va Pensiero" - "Now, that one most people love," he says.

Bossi is not new to political provocations: years ago he called for the peaceful secession of northern Italy, which he insists on calling Padania, from the rest of the country. Last summer he organized a soccer tournament with other “oppressed nations,” including Tibet, Northern Ireland, and East Timor. Padania's team, by the way, won.

So Bossi may be a little eccentric. But on this one, he may be right.

The music of the current anthem is indeed mediocre – quite a shame for a country that has produced artists of the caliber of Vivaldi and Puccini, not to mention Mr. Verdi himself. The lyrics are also difficult to understand, and a bit too militaristic for my taste.


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