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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter interrogates the political valency of the operatic canon. The case study is familiar, Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, but rather than the opera’s political status (re-confirmed in a recent noted performance of the opera in the context of celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italian unification), the emphasis here is on its canonic status, which is both multiplicitous and contentious. In particular, its presence in the influential canone del Risorgimento proposed by Alberto Banti is revealing of certain aspects of operatic canonicity more generally: the difficulties inherent in characterizing reception in the theater, the significance of memory and “rememberedness” in canonic thinking, and the importance to the operatic canon not only of instantiation but also of participation. This chapter is paired with Mark Berry’s “‘Blow the opera houses into the air’: Wagner, Boulez, and Modernist canons.”

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