ROME (AP) - It isn't every day that a conductor concedes an encore for an opera's chorus. Even rarer is asking the audience to sing it, but maestro Riccardo Muti has done so for the love of homeland.
Muti swirled about on his podium Saturday night to face the audience during Verdi's "Nabucco" at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera when shouts of "bis!" (encore!) rang out. The chorus had just sung "Va' Pensiero," a rousing number many Italians wish were their national anthem.
The Italian maestro, who opened the performance by lamenting the government's recent slashing of the arts budget, said he would only concede the encore if the audience sang along in support of culture and with patriotic spirit. The opera-goers rose to their feet and sang.
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