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Verdi in Victorian London

Massimo Zicari

7. Rigoletto (1853)

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On 19 March 1853, the directors of the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden announced that the opera season would commence on the 29th of that month even though a prospectus had not yet been issued. On the competition’s side, in contrast, financial difficulties had imperilled the future of Her Majesty’s Theatre. Its doubtful state held the readers’ attention, for rumours circulated that Frederick Gye was considering taking over that operatic establishment too.1 Similar comments made their appearance in March in the columns of The Times and The Athenaeum, each journal calling the public’s attention to the sense of uncertainty and hesitation that the long wait for news had aroused. Eventually, The Observer announced that three people had been entrusted with the management of Her Majesty’s Theatre: “Mr Nugent, former superintendent of the theatre; Mr Robinson, the late treasurer of the establishment; and Signor Puzzi, the negotiator of engagements with foreign artistes, and the caterer...

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