Nineteenth-century operas reflected the changing views of Venice before its fall. Early in the century, depictions of a tyrannical political system, derived from French revolutionary and Napoleonic propaganda, dominated operatic plots. Later, when gothic melodrama was in full swing, the spy, the bravo, and the prostitute assumed central roles. During the fin-de-siècle, when the prevailing view of republican Venice's politics, as well as literary convention, had profoundly changed, operatic settings of eighteenth-century Venice tended to emphasize the liberating, sensual pleasures of Carnival.

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