Toscanini first performed Inno delle nazioni on Monday, July 26, 1915, in the outdoor arena in Milan, shortly after Italy entered World War I, as part of a 'grande concerto verdiano' (grand Verdi concert). The 'wizard maestro' Toscanini 'shared the honors of the evening with Verdi'. The aria of the patriotic virgin warrior Odabella, sung in a public display as she leads a group of Acquileian women prisoners of the Huns, extols the strength and courage of Italian women who will fight rather than lament and rejoices in the opportunity to obtain vengeance against the captors. Inno delle nazioni rose to louder and stronger patriotic heights during World War II, when, eighty years after its composition, it became an artistic weapon for waging an international cultural and political battle on Italy's behalf. The belief that in 1862 Verdi had directly aimed his cantata at Austrian oppressors in Italy.