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Censoring the Muses: Opera and Creative Control in Nicholas's Russia (1825–1855)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2022

Daniil Zavlunov*
Stetson University, Florida, USA


This article offers the first systematic investigation of the institution of opera censorship in Russia during the reign of Nicholas I. Drawing on new archival sources, it examines censorship legislation, the organisation of dramatic (i.e., theatre) censorship, the workings of its bureaucracy, censors’ reports and protocols and Nicholas's personal decrees on productions of specific operas, and printed and manuscript librettos. From these, it distils the patterns of state intervention in opera, revealing a remarkable fluidity – even capriciousness – of approaches. Decisions to ban or permit, and specific intrusions into the texts, were based on the censors’ adherence to or disregard for the Empire's censorship laws, Nicholas's inclinations and impulses, changes in cultural policy, practical needs of the Imperial Theatres, the shifting political climate at home and abroad, and, most of all, the national point of origin of the operatic work under review. In addition to surveying the trends, the article offers three case studies: Glinka's Zhizn’ za Tsarya (A Life for the Tsar), Verdi's Rigoletto and Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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1 I use anglicised, Germanised or Latinised spellings of names when such are standard in scholarship (e.g., Nicholas I rather than Nikolay I) or when the key players discussed used such variants themselves (e.g., Benckendorff instead of Benkendorf). In other cases, and in all citations, I transliterate from Russian, employing the system first developed in Taruskin, Richard, Musorgsky: Eight Essays and an Epilogue (Princeton, 1993)Google Scholar. All translations – from all languages – are mine, unless otherwise specified.

2 Facets of Catherine the Great's operatic politics are treated in Naroditskaya, Inna, Bewitching Russian Opera: The Tsarina from State to Stage (New York, 2012)Google Scholar; Giust, Anna, Cercando l'opera russa: la formazione di una coscienza nazionale nel repertorio operistico del Settecento (Milan, 2014)Google Scholar; Giust, Anna, ‘Gli inizi del governo di Oleg di Caterina II: Sarti, Canobbio e Paškevič al servizio di un'idea’, Studi musicali 1 (2016), 3966Google Scholar; Elise Lauren Bonner, ‘Catherine the Great and the Rise of Comic Opera in Late Eighteenth-Century St. Petersburg’ (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2017).

3 The situation is only slightly better for the second half of the century. See Oldani, Robert W., ‘Boris Godunov and the Censor’, 19th-Century Music 2/3 (1979), 245–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Taruskin, Musorgsky, ch. 4; Simon Morrison, Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement (Berkeley, 2002), passim; Walter Zidaric, ‘Traduction/adaptation des livrets d'opéras: le rôle de la censure en Russie aux XIXe et XXe siècles’, in La traduction des livrets: aspects théoriques, historiques et pragmatiques, ed. Gottfried R. Marschall (Paris, 2004), 495–504; Olga Haldey, Mamontov's Private Opera: The Search for Modernism in the Russian Theater (Bloomington, 2010), passim.

4 References to censorship are usually fleeting (see in the following notes for specific examples of such studies). For Russian composers, there is nothing comparable to the valuable scholarship on the censoring of Verdi's operas in Italy and elsewhere: Giger, Andreas, ‘Social Control and the Censorship of Giuseppe Verdi's Operas in Rome (1844–1859)’, Cambridge Opera Journal 11/3 (1999), 233–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Philip Gossett, ‘Censorship and Self-Censorship: Problems in Editing Operas of Giuseppe Verdi’, in Essays in Musicology: A Tribute to Alvin Johnson, ed. Lewis Lockwood and Edward Roesner (Philadelphia, 1990), 247–57; Francesco Izzo, Laughter Between Two Revolutions: Opera Buffa in Italy, 1831–1848 (Rochester, 2013); Marvin, Roberta Montemorra, ‘The Censorship of Verdi's Operas in Victorian London’, Music & Letters 82/4 (2001), 582610CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 For example, not distinguishing between print and theatre censorships; or comparing Russian adaptations of Western operas to their original texts without also examining adaptations incurred by the ‘European censorial network’, which offered already-reworked versions of the problematic originals (see my discussion of Rigoletto and Les Huguenots later).

6 See, for instance, Choldin, Marianna Tax, A Fence around the Empire: Russian Censorship of Western Ideas under the Tsars (Durham, NC, 1985)Google Scholar; or Dunning, Chester, ‘The Tsar's Red Pencil: Nicholas I and Censorship of Pushkin's “Boris Godunov”’, The Slavic and East European Journal 54/2 (2010), 238–54Google Scholar; V.R. Firsov et al., eds., Tsenzura v Rossii: istoriya i sovremennost’, Sbornik nauchnïkh trudov, 6 vols. (St Petersburg, 2001–13); Zhirkov, G.V., Istoriya tsenzurï v Rossii XIX veka (St Petersburg, 2000)Google Scholar; Sergey I. Grigor'ev, Pridvornaya tsenzura i obraz verkhovnoy vlasti: 1831–1917 (St Petersburg, 2007).

7 Nikolay von Drizen, Dramaticheskaya tsenzura dvukh epokh: 1825–1881 (Petrograd, 1917) addresses musical theatre only tangentially. Other scholars, often relying on Drizen, offer overviews of dramatic censorship; see, for example, Stites, Richard, Serfdom, Society, and the Arts in Imperial Russia: The Pleasure and the Power (New Haven, 2005), 162–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 Attempts to situate Russian theatrical censorship within the context of European censorship practices have produced only brief surveys, in which generalisations abound and discussions of opera are in short supply. See, for example, Anthony Swift, ‘Russia’, in The Frightful Stage: Political Censorship of the Theater in Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. Robert J. Goldstein (New York, 2009), 130–61.

9 See Zavlunov, Daniil, ‘Nicholas I and his Dramatic Censors Tackle Opera’, Russian Literature 113 (2020), 732CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 With the exception of published legislative codes, this study relies on documents at the Russian State Historical Archive (Rossiyskiy Gosudarstvennïy Istoricheskiy Arkhiv; henceforth, RGIA), the St Petersburg State Theatre Library (Sankt-Peterburgskaya Gosudarstvennaya Teatral'naya Biblioteka, or TB) and the Russian National Library (Rossiyskaya Natsional'naya Biblioteka, or RNB).

11 Here I distil only the most relevant elements of Nicholas's political, religious and aesthetic outlook based on A.E. Presniakov, Emperor Nicholas I of Russia: The Apogee of Autocracy (1825–1855), ed. and trans. Judith C. Zacek (Gulf Breeze, FL, 1974); Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Nicholas and Official Nationality in Russia, 1825–1855 (Berkeley, 1959); and, especially, Lincoln, W. Bruce, Nicholas I: Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias (DeKalb, 1989)Google Scholar.

12 Sergey Uvarov (Nicholas's Minister of People's Enlightenment), quoted in Riasanovsky, Nicholas and Official Nationality, 74.

13 Narodnost’, from narod or folk, is usually rendered in English as ‘nationality’, but it is closer to the German Volkstümlichkeit. Because there is no English equivalent, I leave narodnost’ untranslated.

14 Lincoln, Nicholas I, 241. On the role of music in this nationalism, see Taruskin, Richard, Defining Russia Musically: Historical and Hermeneutical Essays (Princeton, 1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 25–47; and Frolova-Walker, Marina, Russian Music and Nationalism: From Glinka to Stalin (New Haven, 2007)Google Scholar, esp. chs. 1–3.

15 Lincoln, Nicholas I, 251.

16 Lincoln, Nicholas I, 248–9, 237.

17 The process of monopolisation was begun by Catherine the Great and completed by Nicholas in 1843. Neither Alexander I nor Alexander II, whose reigns flank that of Nicholas, exerted much censorial pressure on operatic works.

18 Polnoye sobraniye zakonov Rossiyskoy Imperii, Sobraniye vtoroye, 1825–1881 (St Petersburg, 1830), I: 550–71. Henceforth PSZ1.

19 On the creation, implementation, execution and problems of Nicholas's censorship codes, see V. Yakushkin, ‘Iz istorii russkoy tsenzurï’, in Russkaya pechat’ i tsenzura: v proshlom i nastoyashchem, ed. Vl. Rozenberg and V. Yakushkin (Moscow, 1905), 1–87; and Sidney Monas, The Third Section: Police and Society in Russia under Nicholas I (Cambridge, MA, 1961), ch. 4.

20 Polnoye sobraniye zakonov Rossiyskoy Imperii, Sobraniye vtoroye, 1825–1881 (St Petersburg, 1830), III: 459–78. Henceforth PSZ2.

21 All references to PSZ2 are given parenthetically in the text by article number.

22 All references to PSZ1 are given parenthetically in the text by article number.

23 I adopt and adapt the distinction between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ censorship from John Rosselli's use of the terms in his ‘Censorship’, Grove Music Online,

24 Charles A. Ruud and Sergei A. Stepanov, Fontantka 16: The Tsars’ Secret Police (Montreal, 1999), esp. 20–2.

25 Russia's other major cultural centres with operatic establishments included Moscow (which had an Italian opera company until 1827, but only a Russian opera troupe thereafter), Odessa (which had Italian opera intermittently throughout Nicholas's reign), Riga (opera in German) and Warsaw (until 1831).

26 Some of these demographic distinctions in opera audiences began to dissolve in the latter half of Nicholas's reign.

27 The history of censoring Boris Godunov is treated in Dunning, ‘The Tsar's Red Pencil’; see also Chester Dunning et al., The Uncensored Boris Godunov: The Case for Pushkin's Original Comedy (Madison, WI, 2006).

28 RNB, fond 831, opis’ 1, no. 8, f. 53.

29 On the ordeals of Le prophète, see Zavlunov, ‘Nicholas I and his Dramatic Censors’, 21–6.

30 My analysis of the process of censoring printed texts relies entirely on PSZ2.

31 Studies of the Third Section and its many censorial roles (but generally not concerned with opera) include Mikhail Konstantinovich Lemke, Nikolayevskiye zhandarmï i literatura 1826–1855 gg.: po podlennïm delam Tret'ego Otdeleniya S. E. I. V. kantselyarii, 2nd edn (St Petersburg, 1909); Monas, The Third Section; Ruud and Stepanov, Fontantka 16; O. Iu. Abakumov, ‘Dramaticheskaya tsenzura i III otdeleniye (konets 50-kh—nachalo 60-kh godov XIX veka)’, in Tsenzura v Rossii: istoriya i sovremennost’, Sbornik nauchnïkh trudov, ed. V.R. Firsov et al., Vïpusk 1 (St Petersburg, 2001), 66–76.

32 Mikhail Gedeonov should not be confused with Alexander Gedeonov, his father and the Director of the Imperial Theatres.

33 For biographical details for the three censors, see Zavlunov, ‘Nicholas I and his Dramatic Censors’.

34 Some of these imperial decrees are gathered in Sbornik postanovleniy i rasporyazheniy po tsenzure s 1720 po 1862 god (St Petersburg, 1862).

35 Quoted in ‘Persiya i Turtsiya pod oboronoyu Gr. Nessel'rode i Tsenzurï v 1827–1828 gg’, Russkaya Starina 19/6 (1888), 615–18, at 617.

36 Snapshots of Oldecop's life, work and worldview can be found in Zavlunov, ‘Nicholas I and his Dramatic Censors’; for a more expansive biography, see B. Alekseyevskiy, ‘Ol'dekop, Yevstafiy Ivanovich’, Russkiy Biographicheskiy Slovar’ (St Petersburg, 1905), XII: 244–5.

37 It seems that Oldecop amused himself by writing his censorship reports in the original language of the play or opera under review (except for Italian, which he probably read but did not write). But when his load became particularly heavy, his recourse was always to French, which was speedier. One should underscore that although the official language of state bureaucracy was Russian, most of the top bureaucrats were polyglots who used languages interchangeably. Still, French was the preferred language among those in this circle.

38 Every report provides some basic but essential information about the dramatic work under review. The three numbers in the upper left-hand corner, seen in Figure 1, indicate different inventories: ‘No. 171’ is the number of the report for the year 1836 (171 reports have been written so far); ‘No. 74p’ indicates that seventy-four dramatic works in Russian have been reviewed; ‘No. 236’ represents the total number of dramatic works subjected to censorial review that year (some reports contain several works). The information in the right-hand corner indicates the resolution on the report and the date of that resolution. The first three lines of the text proper reproduce exactly how the dramatic work is titled in the original manuscript libretto submission. Often this information provides crucial evidence about the work being reviewed and its origin source and language. Finally, the fourth line specifies the intended Imperial stage (this one is for St Petersburg, but others – Moscow, Odessa, etc – would be similarly noted).

39 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 198; 6 October 1836 (original French).

40 The protocol highlights that the libretto was censored from a manuscript copy of the text and not the score, referring, as it does, to the scene division that exists in Rosen's libretto, but is not present in Glinka's holograph score. Although Rosen's manuscript libretto is not extant, the first publication of the opera libretto appears to preserve the original structure. See Zhizn’ za Tsarya. Opera v trekh deystviyakh. Sochineniye Barona Rozena. Muzïka M. I. Glinki (St Petersburg, 1836). The opera's autograph score is archived in RNB, fond 190, opis’ 1, nos. 1 and 2.

41 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 45, f. 9; 6 October 1836 (original Russian).

42 That these changes were made by Rosen or Glinka, rather than the censor, is made clear by the cover letter from the Third Section, which accompanied the re-censored, updated libretto on its way back to Glinka. RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 7266, f. 91.

43 See Dunning, ‘The Tsar's Red Pencil’; Dunning et al., The Uncensored Boris Godunov.

44 This myth was propagated even by those Soviet scholars who had some knowledge of these documents. Aleksandr Ossovskiy, for instance, knew of the censor's report, because he vaguely references its only publication (in 1911), but he never explained what it contained or explored its implications. See A.V. Ossovskiy, ‘Dramaturgiya operï M. I. Glinki “Ivan Susanin”’, in M. I. Glinka: issledovaniya i materialï (Leningrad-Moscow, 1950), 252, n. 7. Similarly, Vladimir Protopopov was aware of the censor's excisions to the opera's libretto, but simply ignored these in his monumental study of Glinka's first opera: Vladimir V. Protopopov, ‘Ivan SusaninGlinki: muzïkal'no-teoreticheskoye issledovaniye (Moscow, 1961), 48–9. Aleksandr Brodskiy, ‘Tsarskaya tsenzura i “Ivan Susanin”: po neizdannïm dokumentam’, in Leningradskiy Ordena Lenina Akademicheskiy Teatr Operï i Baleta imeni S. M. Kirova, ed. F.P. Bondarenko (Leningrad, 1940), 69–77, shows no awareness of these documents, but claims that Glinka's holograph score preserves the censorial changes. There is no proof for Brodskiy's assertion. The three such changes that he identifies – changes that he argues were ‘imposed upon Glinka by the III Section’ (77) – are not related to any of the modifications from the Third Section highlighted earlier; besides, only one of the changes that Brodskiy points to introduces an element that, arguably, renders the text more monarchist. In all cases, the changes in Glinka's score suggest avoidance of repetition, and/or poorly constructed original text, and/or replacement with text that rhythmically better aligns with the music.

45 Nicholas's role in the shaping of A Life remains unclear, but three things are certain: Nicholas handpicked the appropriately reactionary librettist for Glinka (and subsequently rewarded him with the lucrative job of secretary to the crown prince), gave the opera its eventual title and took particular interest in the opera's realisation. See Daniil Y. Zavlunov, ‘M. I. Glinka's A Life for the Tsar (1836): An Historical and Analytic-Theoretical Study’ (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2010), ch. 2.

46 Many of these original librettos, carrying the signature of the Russian dramatic censor and the indication of approval, are preserved at the Theatre Library, St Petersburg.

47 In the annals of opera in Russia, the Italian company that operated in St Petersburg in the years 1828–31 remains one of the most under-researched and misunderstood, with existing literature on it perplexingly unreliable. Official documents preserved in the collection of the Ministry of the Imperial Court (RGIA, fond 472) allow us to sketch in some details. Only a handful of the troupe's sixteen soloists were found locally, including the four transferred from Moscow's Italian opera company (after its contract expired in February 1827). Among the latter was the famed, if by this point well past his vocal prime, Luigi Zamboni, who became the St Petersburg troupe's artistic director. Problematically, despite the state's numerous and multifaceted attempts to bolster the troupe, the Italian opera company failed to attract a following in St Petersburg, performing in the theatre usually more than half empty, which forced Nicholas to allow the singers’ three-year contracts to lapse. Reasons for the troupe's failure were many (including, it would seem, audience unfamiliarity and discomfort with the latest Italian repertoire with which the troupe flooded the Bol'shoy stage), but chief among them was the quality of the singers – virtually everyone involved in realizing Nicholas's Italian opera project ultimately agreed that the troupe as a whole was second-rate. Still, although the troupe itself collapsed, its presence permanently transformed St Petersburg's musical landscape.

48 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 2, f. 109; 17 October 1828 (the censor's report carries no resolution). I have been unable to trace this libretto adaptation to another location in Europe.

49 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 2, f. 138; 19 November 1828. The opera's title and corresponding details are in English in the original report. The published libretto being reviewed was likely the bilingual – Italian and English – Pietro l'Eremita, opera seria, in due atti. La musica di Rossini. Rappresentata nel Teatro del Re, Haymarket, March 17, 1827 (London, 1827).

50 Rossini's French Moïse et Pharaon (1827) could serve as another illustration. Again, the original would not be allowed; instead, the opera was censored and permitted as Zorà in October 1850, once again likely based on the adaptation originally created for London. RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 74; 21 October 1850.

51 I base the discussion in this section on my analysis of the relevant reports and censor's protocols in RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, nos. 19 and 58.

52 Unlike the first Italian opera experiment, the second one is reasonably well researched and understood. A useful primer is Richard Taruskin, ‘Ital'yanshchina’, in Defining Russia Musically, ch. 10. What made the second experiment a success has to do with at least four factors: 1) commitment of enormous state resources; 2) elimination of competition – Nicholas suffocated the German opera troupe and then exiled the Russian troupe to Moscow (even if only temporarily); 3) audience familiarity with the repertoire – by the time the second Italian troupe was created, St Petersburg was already enthralled by the latest Italian operatic works, so effectively performed by the German and Russian troupes for nearly a decade; and most importantly, 4) the star-studded troupe itself – for example, the principal singers in the first season included Giovanni Battista Rubini, Antonio Tamburini and Pauline Viardot.

53 The number is significantly higher, but I exclude from this count the duplicate librettos that – for whatever reasons – were reviewed multiple times.

54 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 112; 28 December 1851 (original Russian).

55 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 17; 1 December 1844. Victor Hugo's play Hernani was already prohibited by this time by the Minister of the Imperial Court.

56 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 21; 25 July 1845.

57 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 28; 13 August 1846.

58 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 30; 10 February 1847. This was done for Odessa. Four years later, Nabucco was performed in St Petersburg, with equally substantial changes, as Nino, re d'Assiria (RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 105; 1 October 1851), likely using the libretto of the opera heard in London in 1846.

59 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 65; 14 April 1850 (original Russian).

60 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 110; 22 October 1851.

61 See, for example, RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 5; 12 April 1844 (original Russian).

62 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 2, f. 25; 10 August 1828 (original Russian).

63 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 2, f. 31; 14 August 1828 (original Russian).

64 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 5, f. 9; 16 January 1830 (original German).

65 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 27; 26 February 1836 (original French).

66 It was likely the libretto that had been published and performed only recently in Berlin.

67 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 99; 13 May 1836 (original French).

68 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 99; 13 May 1836 (original French).

69 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 99; 13 May 1836. The bracketed text in my translation is not fully legible in the original.

70 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 256; 17 December 1836 (original French).

71 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 1, f. 5; 17 December 1836.

72 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 1, f. 7; 24 December 1836.

73 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 256; 17 December 1836 (original Russian).

74 The same thing happened with Verdi's Ernani, which, though it had been prohibited in its original form since 1844, was suddenly approved for performance by the highest decree in 1846, when Nicholas simply lifted the ban. RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 45, f. 17 (note in the footer).

75 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 101; 7 July 1851 (original Russian).

76 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 115; 8 February 1852.

77 On Verdi's attitude towards Viscardello, see David R.B. Kimbell, Verdi in the Age of Italian Romanticism (Cambridge, 1981), 279; and Julian Budden, The Operas of Verdi, rev. edn, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1992), I: 509. The Roman adaptation of Rigoletto is discussed in some detail in Chusid, Martin, ‘On Censored Performances of “Les Vêpres siciliennes” and “Rigoletto”: Evidence from the Verdi Archive at New York University’, Verdi Forum 25 (1998), 319Google Scholar; and Francesco Izzo, ‘“Years in Prison”: Giuseppe Verdi and Censorship in Pre-Unification Italy’, in The Oxford Handbook of Music Censorship, ed. Patricia Hall (New York, 2018), 237–57.

78 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 115; 8 February 1852 (original Russian).

79 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 130; 19 December 1852.

80 TB, IIa-V41-42499; Rigoletto: melodramma in tre atti di F. M. Piave, musica di Giuseppe Verdi (Milan, n.d.).

81 Most of these modifications found their way into the censor's protocols as well, preserved in RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 58, ff. 4–7; 1853.

82 TB, IIa-V41-42499, pp. 7–8 and f. 7½ (sic). Page numbers refer to the printed pages in the libretto, which document the censor's expurgations (and, on occasion, other markings). Folio numbers refer to the handwritten pages containing replacement texts.

83 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 9 and f. 9.

84 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 23 and f. 23½.

85 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 35 and f. 35.

86 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 26 and f. 26. Strangely, the censor did not copy this scene's changes into his protocols.

87 Censors virtually everywhere in Europe found the sack to be objectionable. The Russian censor did not elaborate on the reasons for the sack's impermissibility.

88 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 32 and f. 32.

89 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 35 and f. 35.

90 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 35 and f. 35.

91 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 19 and f. 19½.

92 TB, IIa-V41-42499, the folio (unnumbered) with the new list of characters.

93 TB, IIa-V41-42499, p. 24 and f. 24½.

94 TB, IIa-V41-42499, ff. 23½, 24½ and elsewhere.

95 It is unclear whether the libretto of Rigoletto was, in fact, published for performance in St Petersburg (I was unable to locate a copy). If it was not, then here dramatic censorship was augmented by the Ministry of People's Enlightenment preventing the public from accessing the printed text, even in its new form (a practice already common for French opera).

96 Kimbell, Verdi in the Age of Italian Romanticism, 269–71.

97 Viscardello is not mentioned either in the libretto of Rigoletto under review or the censor's report, but there are pencil markings in several crossed-out passages that indicate page numbers. Those numbers reference and match the page numbers of the libretto of Viscardello issued by Ricordi, Viscardello: melodramma in tre atti. Musica di Giuseppe Verdi (Milan, n.d.); needless to say, the corresponding texts match as well. Even the slips of the Roman censors made their way into the ‘Russian’ Rigoletto. In one spot of the altered Rigoletto the reference to ‘Dio’ was replaced with ‘Ciel’, but at a later point Gilda's ‘Gran Dio’ remained untouched: these parallel similar inconsistencies in Viscardello.

98 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 19, f. 132; 5 January 1853 (original Russian).

99 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 11, f. 21; 31 January and 2 February 1835 (original Russian).

100 RGIA, fond 472, opis’ 13, no. 1384.

101 For an important survey of the history of La muette on the Russian stages, see Lashchenko, S.K., ‘“Fenella” na stsenakh imperatorskikh teatrov’, Iskusstvo muzïki: teoriya i istoriya, 8 (2013), 545Google Scholar.

102 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 11, ff. 60–61, at 61 (original Russian).

103 Segments of that history could be found in Gozenpud, Abram, Muzïkal'nïy teatr v Rossii: Ot istokov do Glinki (Leningrad, 1959)Google Scholar; Abram Gozenpud, Russkiy opernïy teatr XIX veka (1836–1856) (Leningrad, 1969); Yu. V. Keldïsh et al., eds., Istoriya russkoy muzïki, V, 1826–1850 (Moscow, 1988); Marina Frolova-Walker, ‘Grand Opera in Russia: Fragments of an Unwritten History’, in The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera, ed. David Charlton (Cambridge, 2003), 344–63; Zidaric, ‘Traduction/adaptation des livrets d'opéras’.

104 RGIA, fond 472, opis’ 13, no. 1295, ff. 1–2.

105 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, ff. 154–6; 30 July 1836 (original French).

106 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 154.

107 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 155.

108 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 12, f. 156. There is an alternative possibility that the note originated later, in response to a request for clarification from Oldecop's superiors.

109 RGIA, fond 472, opis’ 13, no. 1295, ff. 5–9.

110 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, f. 1; 13 September 1840.

111 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, f. 2; 2 December 1840 (original Russian).

112 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 1; 14 August 1841.

113 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 1; 14 August 1841.

114 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 1; 14 August 1841.

115 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 1; 14 August 1841.

116 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 2; 17 August 1841.

117 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, f. 3; 20 August 1841 (original Russian). Also see RIGA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 3; 20 August 1841.

118 I was unable to find the report associated with that earlier review.

119 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 8835, f. 4; 28 August 1841 (original Russian). See also RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, f. 4; 28 August 1841.

120 The prohibition was invoked anew only a year later, when the theatre in Vilna tried to stage Die Hugenotten, noting that the opera had already been prohibited for the imperial theatres in St Petersburg and Riga ‘as a result of the Highest command [voli] of His Imperial Majesty’. RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 18, f. 195; 26 October 1842 (original Russian).

121 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 22, f. 126; 14 June 1845 (original Russian).

122 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 1, no. 22, f. 209; 30 September 1845.

123 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, ff. 5–6; 31 October 1848 (original Russian).

124 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, f. 8. I was unable to locate the libretto of this adaptation to determine its provenance.

125 Les Huguenots represents an exception. Starting in 1848, Nicholas tightened censorship considerably, and repression of artefacts became even more widespread. Le prophète – the next big censorship battle – could prove the point (see Zavlunov, ‘Nicholas I and his Dramatic Censors’). Moreover, the emperor decreed that musical scores intended for publication be reviewed meticulously, requiring that censors now pay close attention to the musical symbols – that is, the actual notes – as a possible means of subversion. See Yakushkin, ‘Iz istorii russkoy tsenzurï’, 68.

126 RGIA, fond 497, opis’ 1, no. 12496, f. 1; 18 November 1849 (original Russian).

127 RGIA, fond 780, opis’ 2, no. 6, f. 9; 20 November 1849 (original Russian).

128 The censor's copy of the printed libretto survives as TB, IIa M64 41854, with the approval date of 3 December 1849.

129 RGIA, fond 777, opis’ 2, no. 28; 1850; the new version's synopsis could be found in TB, 1a/A/Sb-11 56357.

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