Verdi in European Football

by aprilmeehl

When we first listened to “La Donna e’Mobile” in class, Professor Dolan asked if the tune was familiar to us. At first, I didn’t think I recognized it, but as the theme kept repeating over and over again, I realized that I had heard this tune before. When I got home, I looked it up and realized where I had heard this catchy tune: sports cheers.

Chants are very popular in sports, but especially in European football. Football chants are used by spectators to unite together in support of their team or even in opposition of the opponent. Each country and team has their own traditions, and their popular chants come from different backgrounds. Chants can originate from hymns, classical music, folk songs, and even popular music. For example, one chant, created to ridicule the hairstyle of player Jason Lee, whose tied-back dreadlocks resembled a pineapple to fans, is based off of a spiritual. The words “He’s got a pineapple on his head” are set to the tune of the Christian spiritual “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

Verdi’s “La Donna e’Mobile” is also used as a common football chant.  It can be heard in Derby County’s song in honor of Fabrizio Ravanelli. The words go “We’ve got Fabrizio, you’ve got f*** allio”. Based off of these lyrics, Verdi’s tune seems appropriate for this chant. “La Donna e’Mobile” has a cocky, almost taunting feeling to it. Think of the final scene of Rigoletto.  Rigoletto is about to dump the supposed body of the Duke into the water when he hears the familiar tune of “La Donna e’Mobile”. This tune haunts Rigoletto as he discovers that he did not dispose of the Duke, but that he caused the death of his own daughter. It can be heard as taunting because the Duke’s charm, portrayed in this catchy tune, is the reason Rigoletto wanted him dead. However, his charm leads Gilda to sacrifice herself for him and to allow the Duke to carry on his womanizing life. This same taunting attitude is used in the Derby County chant. The Derby County fans are taunting their opponents, claiming to be able to win despite any circumstances because they have something the other team does not.

When Verdi wrote “La Donna e’Mobile”, he created more than just an aria. Due to the catchiness of this tune, as well as the emotion portrayed by it, he established an unforgettable tune that will continue to be used in numerous different circumstances.