Law and Opera pp 103-117 | Cite as

Legal Issues in Italian Opera

  • Silvia FerreriEmail author


While the literature may often refer to law, especially to illustrate the life’s struggles for characters such as the protagonists of Charles Dickens novels, legal issues are less commonly connected with Opera singing. The script writers do not pay special attention to the legal details of the dramatic happenings described in their libretti. The actual functioning of judicial mechanisms, particularly in the field of private rather than criminal law, may seem too prosaic to deserve much elaboration. Characters have a paradigmatic role and the triviality of life seems out of place in their acting. However, an experienced observer may find opportunities for reflection in some scripts, in relation, for instance, to the recurring theme of forced marriages. They are often mentioned (and in some cases orchestrated on stage) as in the Barbiere di Siviglia. In an extreme case, the bride is even depicted as an asset to be endorsed by signature of a bill to a different groom: in La cambiale di matrimonio. There is here a specular correspondence with an often tread path in novels and plays (such as Goldoni’s comedies). Looking at a more commercial aspect, in Verdi’s Traviata we observe financial arrangements entrusted to an agent (will she act “ultra vires”?) and the spontaneous restitution of a benefit (that may be classified as “moral obligation”, evocating quasi-contract relations). The trivial conflicts governed by private law emerge even on stage, not on the forefront of the stage perhaps, but they are sometimes quite relevant to the structure of the story performed in theatre.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Turin UniversityTurinItaly

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