On March 11th 1851 took place the Premiere of the first of what is known as Verdi's "popular trilogy", followed by La Traviata and Il Trovatore1850 was a year of great productivity for Verdi: while he was busy with the score for Stiffelio for the Teatro Grande of Trieste, he also had to abide by his contract with La Fenice in Venice. He communicated to Francesco Maria Piave his intention to put to music a particular subject, with characters that had already caused scandal in Paris in 1832: Le Roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. Despite the urging of Piave with the director of La Fenice Carlo Marzari, nothing could be done about the censors, who would not allow the king to be portrayed as a cynical libertine. The librettist and the composer had to accept several changes to the original French version: the protagonist François I king of France was transformed into an anonymous Duke of Mantua (recognisable, however, as Vincenzo I Gonzaga) and many names of the characters were changed. But Verdi did not want the king as protagonist of his opera; he preferred the court buffoon. And so the definitive title became Rigoletto (from the French Tribolet), after a temporary La maledizione (The curse), changed as usual by the censors.
The première took place on March 11th, 1851 at La Fenice in Venice, accorded a resounding success by the public. Teresa Brambilla was Gilda (soprano), Felice Varesi was Rigoletto (baritone) and Raffaele Mirate was the Duke of Mantua (tenor).