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America in ItalyThe United States in the Political Thought and Imagination of the Risorgimento, 1763-1865$
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Axel Körner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164854

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164854.001.0001

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Unveiling Modernity: Verdi’s America and the Unification of Italy

Unveiling Modernity: Verdi’s America and the Unification of Italy

(p.163) Chapter Four Unveiling Modernity: Verdi’s America and the Unification of Italy
America in Italy

Axel Körner

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the creation of Giuseppe Verdi's American opera Un ballo in maschera, first performed around the time of Italy's Second War of Independence, in 1859. Un ballo in maschera was the first modern Italian opera set across the Atlantic. The history of its creation and the subsequent debate around it serves as a classic example of the cultural imagination surrounding life in the New World as well as the wider social impact of political ideas in nineteenth-century Italy. The chapter first considers Un ballo's close connection to the Unification of Italy before offering a reading of the opera. It also explores how Verdi depicted America in his opera and how his depiction relates to Italian debates about America at the time. Finally, it assesses the impact of censorship on the plot of Un ballo.

Keywords:   opera, Giuseppe Verdi, Un ballo in maschera, cultural imagination, New World, Italian unification, America, censorship

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