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Taking its title from Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (‘Fly, thought, on golden wings’), this 60-minute film about the composer’s life and work manages to cram a fair amount into its limited time-frame. It abounds in beautiful shots of the Italian countryside that Verdi loved so well, accompanied by a strong soundtrack performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Richard Armstrong. Narration is provided by the American baritone Thomas Hampson, who also sings four complete arias from I due Foscari, Macbeth, Il trovatore and La traviata. It’s a reasonably strong script, covering all the necessary ground, and Hampson’s enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. What’s lacking, however, is any deeper critical engagement with the question of what role ‘Va pensiero’ played in Italy’s nationalist politics of the 1840s and 50s. Hampson presents the traditional view that it was written to serve as the national anthem of the Risorgimento, but doesn’t mention recent scholarship that challenges this. His dodgy lip synching in the arias can be rather off-putting, too.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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