Verdi at the Heart of the Dictatorship
A celebrazione verdiana Among Fascists
This chapter examines the political appropriation of Giuseppe Verdi in Fascist Italy through a study of the celebrations commemorating the fortieth anniversary of his death in 1941. More specifically, it provides an analysis of the Verdi Year through the lens of a landmark event held among fascist officials at the Academy of Italy in Rome, the heart of the regime's intellectual power, in June 1940-a few days before Italy's entry to war. By reconstructing the structure and the reception of the event, Gabrielle Prud'homme sheds light on how Mussolini's regime maintained its grip on the commemorations and disseminated a discourse entirely consistent with the fascist political and ideological agenda. By insisting on Verdi's patriotic image, exploiting the nationalist topoi conveyed in his operas, emphasizing his peasant origins, and exalting his Italianness, party intellectuals nurtured a Verdian myth that enhanced the Fascist political and totalitarian project.