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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Arrigo Boito sought to escape the limiting conventions of contemporary melodrama in order to revolutionize Italian opera. However, the most radical expression of that effort, his adaptation of Goethe’s Faust, Mefistofele (Mephistopheles), which premiered at La Scala in 1868, did not attain the desired result. In reworking the score, the composer took practical concerns into account, making the opera more pleasing to the mainstream audiences who demanded melodious vocal lines and a tighter dramatic pace. The revised version staged in Bologna in 1875 and the subsequent revivals marked an important turning point: what had been an avant-garde work now entered into the repertoire of all the major theaters. This chapter retraces Boito’s journey from the setback of the premiere to the success for which he strove so diligently, highlighting the creative process that forged a new relationship between poetry and music, which Giuseppe Verdi later exploited in his collaboration with the poet.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Arrigo Boito, opera, Mefistofele, Giuseppe Verdi

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