Rigoletto – the opera that is (eventually) set in Mantua

Rigoletto (1850) is the first operatic masterpiece of Giuseppe Verdi, born in Piacenza, (home of Donatella and Milena) and practitioner in Milan. The opera is based on the controversial play by Victor Hugo, “Le Roi S’amuse”. In fact the 1832 play was banned in France because it was thought to insult King Louis Phillipe. Hugo sued, lost, but became even more famous as a defender of free speech. “Le Roi S’amuse” wasn’t performed for 50 years.

Ironic then that when Verdi wrote Rigoletto for Venice, its then rulers, the Austro-Hungarians, insisted the action be moved from France…

…to Mantua, and set about the time of those pleasure-hungry Gonzagas were getting the big frescos going.

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