The translation of Shakespeare into Italian in the first half of the 19th century was a crucial aspect of the development of Romantic sensibility in Italy. Shakespeare plays accordingly inspired a variety of Italian operatic subjects, although the nature of the relationship can be hard for us to grasp today, as the plays were often shifted into unrecognizable form in order to fit the dictates of Italian operatic norms. But for Verdi, the encounter with Shakespeare was seminal, and the inspiration of Shakespeare’s theatre, which he read in well-thumbed copies of the plays in Italian translation, profound.
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