Analysis of the opera Eliogabalo in its various incarnations, from the perspective of Venetian society and politics at the time, reveals a veiled story of censorship and dissimulation. The first version of the opera, set by Francesco Cavalli in 1667, was hastily abandoned in favor of a new treatment by Giovanni A. Boretti on a libretto by Aurelio Aureli, which managed to retain telling traces of its predecessor. The subsequent fate of this second version, variously rewritten and performed around Italy until 1687, confirms the ideological controversy that always seemed to surround this opera and the influence of theater owners and others over its content, providing an insight into the nature of Venetian operatic patronage.

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