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PRINT October 1987

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A masked ball. From Charles Osborne's Verdi: A Life in the Theatre.

Charles Osborne’s biography Verdi: A Life in the Theatre, featuring a generous selection of letters from the composer’s voluminous correspondence, will be published in January by Alfred A. Knopf, New York at 384 pages, with 16 pages of photographs. The following prepublication excerpt describes the genesis of Un ballo in maschera (A masked ball).

VERDI PREPARED TO compose Gustavo III di Svezia, and asked Antonio Somma to turn Scribe’s French libretto into an Italian one. Somma agreed, but added that he would prefer to do it anonymously or pseudonymously, perhaps not wanting to be involved in any trouble with the censors which might arise from an attempt to show on stage the assassination of a reigning monarch.

The story of how a libretto about Gustave Ill of Sweden eventually became an opera about a Governor of Boston in colonial times is a long and complex one. . . . Even before Somma had

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