I’ve noted the exuberance of national anthems based on the style of Italian opera, notably that of Brazil. But I curiously omitted to pay homage to the Italian anthem, composed by Michele Novaro in 1847 when the concept of “Italy” was still novel. Though it soon became popular, it only became the national anthem in 1946.
With All Due Respect to the spirited renditions of players and spectators, it’s worth relishing it in a polished performance, with three of the six verses (1, 2, and 4):
For anyone not quite ready to sit through an entire Verdi opera, this makes a ready stopgap. The instrumental intro already passes through several moods in quick succession; the song, with its snappy modulation at 0.57, and the fine sequence from 1.18, is just as rousing.
Some of the lyrics may seem a tad niche, all the more so from the mouths of burly athletes—like the openings of verse 1:
Fratelli d’Italia, l’Italia s’è desta, dell’elmo di Scipio s’è cinta la testa.
Noi fummo da secoli calpesti, derisi, perché non siam popolo, perché siam divisi.
Verse 4 is rather arcane too:
Dall’Alpi a Sicilia, dovunque è Legnano,
Ogn’uom di Ferruccio ha il core, ha la mano,
I bimbi d’Italia si chiaman Balilla,
Il suon d’ogni squilla i Vespri suonò [noisy Vespas].
And verse 5:
Son giunchi che piegano le spade vendute
Già l’Aquila d’Austria le penne ha perdute [make do with spaghetti then]
Il sangue d’Italia, il sangue Polacco [checks notes]
bevé col cosacco, ma il cor le bruciò.
Yet again, this exhilarating piece, bursting with energy and variety, only underlines the utter tedium of the British anthem (see also Haydn for football). For Italian folk musicking, click here; and do listen to Enza Pagliara!