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When I began work on this project in 2014 with composer Mohammed Fairouz, the possibility that Donald Trump would be president of the United States – or that the Machiavellian aspects of his personality would be a subject of global concern – was nearly unimaginable.On further consideration (which, surely, a librettist is allowed), I don't think that Trump, with his braggadocio and contempt for fact, really embodies the spirit of "virtue" that Machiavelli regarded as essential for political success. Machiavelli believed in the fact-based life.Trump often seems to be embracing one of the ideas that Machiavelli feared most, which is that politics can transform culture and, indeed, human character.If 2016 was the year of populism's rise, the year of Brexit and Trump, of deconstruction of the liberal political order, then 2017 has begun here in the Netherlands with the rejection of an extremist party and the continuation of the orderly, tolerant state.
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