Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco first opened on March 9, 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Following the death of his wife and two children in 1840, Verdi was grief-stricken and deep in depression. It took him nearly two years to overcome his depression and begin composing again, and it was only with the wildly successful premiere of Nabucco that he got back on his feet. The chorus “Va, Pensiero” has such a memorable melody that it has frequently been suggested as a national anthem for Italy, a tribute to one of the country’s greatest composers. In answer to our bonus question — Nabucco really launched Verdi’s career to new heights, although his first two operas were not that successful. They were: Oberto Conte di San Bonifacio, and Un Giorno di Regno. Neither was greeted with much hoopla.