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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

From his very first opera Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio (1839) to his last, Falstaff (1893), Giuseppe Verdi set many of his works in the Middle Ages. These operas were written over a period of more than fifty years and show the traces of Verdi’s changes in style, interests, and status within the profession; they also confirm the persistent interest on the Middle Ages in Italy through the nineteenth century. This essay aims to show some of the associations and expectations that the medieval locale stimulated in the composer, his librettists, and his Italian public through a broad look at the historical context and the discussion of some aspects of the music, the libretto, and the stage design for a selection of Verdi’s medieval operas. Censorship played a large role in the choice of the medieval locale; in this respect, the failed refashioning of Un ballo in maschera as a medieval opera and the successful transformation of Stiffelio into Aroldo are especially valuable case studies.

Keywords: Giuseppe Verdi, censorship, Un ballo in Maschera, Stiffelio, Aroldo

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