If it seems like I was heavily into opera at this time, I think it is because I hit a load of them at the local recordstore. I did, and still do, listen to opera. And I thought it was a time to find a few new ones. But I also ordered them a bit like this, so they all come after the other.
In 1857 Verdi got a commission from Naples to write an opera. Verdi decided to rewrite an opera that was composed earlier by Daniel Auber about the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden. That took place during a masked ball, and led to his death thirteen days later.
A politically touchy subject, getting the opera past the censors proved to be a frustrating affair. A range of adaptations needed to be done, also because of a recent assassination attempt on Napoleon III by three Italians in Paris. In the end, it was taking place in Boston and all references to Gustav were taken out.
Then there are some veiled ‘coded’ messages in the libretto that refer to the king’s alleged homosexuality, in the original libretto as written for Auber’s opera. Verdi took them out, but replaced them by others, just as easily decoded. Some production have taken these further than probably intended, changing the story a bit.
This recording is nice, but never grabbed me, really. Maybe it was also because I never took the time to listen to it. Don Carlos is better I think, but I had so many at the time.