|For the first draft of the libretto of Un ballo in maschera (1859), Giuseppe Verdi drew his inspiration from the grand-opéra Gustave III by Auber, an opera performed for the first time in Paris in 1833 that depicted the assassination of the King of Sweden. However, censorship, first in Naples and then in Rome, intervened and imposed heavy modifications. Perhaps because it was too demanding, Verdi showed no intransigence with the requests coming from Naples and refused to alter the libretto. On the other hand, he yielded to the requests of the Roman authorities and agreed to change the site of the action and the identity of the protagonists. Consequently, the scene moved from Stockholm to Boston and King Gustav became the Count of Warwick, Governor of Massachusetts.The prelude to the second act is very short and introduces the scene at the place where the scaffold stands. In only a few measures, Verdi skillfully succeeds in condensing the interior restlessness of the protagonists, alongside a prayer of hope.