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The mantuan locations in Rigoletto

Between reality and fantasy, a musical itinerary retraces the locations of Verdi's opera set in Mantua in the sixteenth century

Part of the so-called "Popular Trilogy" together with La Traviata and Il Trovatore, Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto has never left the top ten most performed operas in the world since 2013.

Its popularity is due to its expert blend of drama, passion, and impossible love, as well as some of the most singable and catchy arias of all time, and the clockwork mechanism that leads to the final climax without pausing for breath.

Based on Victor Hugo's play "Le roi s'amuse", which impressed the Italian musician with the intensity of its characters and the dramatic force of its events, the opera centres on the original figure of the Duke of Mantua's court jester and his unfortunate daughter Gilda, who is secretly in love with the Duke, but whose true identity she does not know.

Staged for the first time on 11 May 1851 and set in 16th-century Mantua, Rigoletto's faithful and realistic depiction of streets, alleys, squares and palaces enabled spectators to immediately recognise themselves in familiar settings and landscapes and to easily identify their location within the Lombard city.

So let's set off on an itinerary which, although based on a literary invention, offers us the opportunity to discover certain places in the city in a new light, all while getting to know, revisit, and be moved by events and atmospheres that have made the history of classical music.

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