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Masked faces. Verdi, Uncle Tom and the unification of Italy

Korner, A; (2013) Masked faces. Verdi, Uncle Tom and the unification of Italy. Journal of Modern Italian Studies , 18 (2) 176 - 189. 10.1080/1354571X.2012.753005. Green open access

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Abstract

This article explores Italian images of America during the Risorgimento and the time of Italy’s unification. At the centre of this investigation are two remarkably painful theatrical representations of life in the New World: Verdi’s 1859 opera Un ballo in maschera, set in seventeenth-century Boston; and Rota’s 1852 ballet Bianchi e neri, based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s epic novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Often performed together during the same evening, both works presented Italians with an extremely disturbing image of America, a negation of Italy’s own cultural values. The article reads these theatrical representations of America within a wider context of Italian debates on the United States. Italians did not always look at life in America as apolitical, social or constitutional model; and if in the eyes of many Italians the United States became an epitome of modernity later in the nineteenth century, they did not necessarily identify with the particular model of modernity America stood for. The article argues that historians have tended to overlook some of the complexities of Italy’s image of America.

Type: Article
Title: Masked faces. Verdi, Uncle Tom and the unification of Italy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/1354571X.2012.753005
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1354571X.2012.753005
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1388118
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