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Rigoletto was first produced at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, in 1851, and is generally seen as marking the beginning of Giuseppe Verdi's extraordinary middle period. It was followed in quick succession by Il trovatore and La traviata, and even after the great success of these two works Verdi regarded it as his 'best opera' up to that time. Based on Victor Hugo's play Le Roi s'amuse, which was banned after its premiere in Paris in 1832, the opera faced considerable difficulties with local censors before performance was ...

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