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18:30 - 19:30 3 December 2013

Inaugural Lecture: Unveiling Modernity. Verdi's America and the Unification of Italy


Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre | Wilkins Building (link Map)
Gower St | London | WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Pre-booking essential

Speaker information

Professor Axel Körner, Department of History, Axel Körner is Professor of Modern History and Director of the UCL Centre for Transnational History. He has been teaching at UCL since 1996. His publications include Politics of Culture in Liberal Italy (2009); America Imagined (with N.Miller and A.I.P.Smith, 2012); 1848 – A European Revolution? (ed., 2000); Das Lied von einer anderen Welt (1997). He has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the École Normale Supérieure, Paris; and the Remarque Centre of New York University.

Verdi’s hugely popular American opera Un ballo in maschera (1859) was completed during the final stages of the Unification of Italy. Why did Italy’s compositore nazionale celebrate Unification with an opera set in Boston? Verdi depicts an altogether rather dark and disconcerting image of life in the New World. When president elect Abraham Lincoln attended one of the opera’s first performances in New York, he left the theatre shortly before the final act, allegedly fearing an assassination attempt. Did anybody remember this scene when Lincoln was shot in a theatre four years later? The lecture explores ideas about social and political change in transnational perspective, demonstrating how cultural developments inform our understanding of political events.


Tessa Rickards
+44 (0)20 7679 1346 | t.rickards@ucl.ac.uk


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