The recent cycle of lectures I've completed about the impact of extreme political ideologies in the creation and development of Opera prompted me to write a final reflection on this subject. Opera has always been a byproduct of its social circumstances. However, not unlikely other Art Forms, it has frequently pushed the envelope and challenged those same social circumstances, affirming itself as a vehicle for change.
Works like La Traviata which dared to put a courtesan on the spotlight were so scandalous at the time of their premiere that had to be relocated to other times and circumstances which weren't those that the composer and librettist intended. Remaining with Traviata, it wasn't until many decades after its premiere that Verdi finally managed to have the work performed in the context he intended (that of 19th Century Paris), instead of the Richelieu Paris imposed to him by the censors of the time.
Political authorities have always tried to curb artistic liberty whenever this was deemed too menacing to the social status quo. Another example is Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" which happened to be composed at the same time when a regicide happened in Europe, forcing Verdi to change music, location and libretto in order to appease the censors.
There is, however, a period in Western History that challenges all the European history of censorship, and stands as a beacon of social and artistic Liberty. That would be the post W. W. 1 Berlin and the Weimar Republic. Those were years when all artistic forms developed in every possible direction (Expressionism and later Atonality in Music), partly backed up by the sense of immense social Liberty that artists experienced during those years. This makes the terror and repression that would engulf Europe only a few decades later, all the more unbelievable. The years that followed saw some artists subjected to endless political repression based solely on their ethic background, and others forced to set aside their creativity and work for a regime. That or face exile or worst, criminal prosecution.
We are living in convoluted times, where, on one hand, we've never enjoyed as much freedom of expression as we do now, and on the other, we've got certain political/religious spheres defending that there should be limits to what people can and can't publish/say/perform.