Mantua was the unintended setting for Verdi's Rigoletto (1851). At the time, the ruling Gonzaga family possessed a predisposition for the weakening in the spine that causes hunchbacks, so Verdi's librettist Francesco Maria Piave was told by the censors in Venice to change the setting for Rigoletto, which involved a French King.
Although all references to Mantua was purely fictional, the present town has made the most of the story, claiming that the house with veranda and walled garden at piazzo Sordello standing on the same piazza is the Palazzo Ducale, supposedly the garden from which Gilda was abducted.
Rigoletto is not perfect; but Verdi's inspiration reached a unique perfection in the famous quartet
in the last act. Here flatters Maddalena, who laughs at him, while outside the shack Gilda laments that he used the same words to her and Rigoletto promises that he will avenge her. Verdi gave each a distinct and appropriate melodic line, and the miracle of the quartet is the clarity
with which he is able to keep the four lines distinct and yet harmoniously combined. It is a perfect fusion of music and drama.