It premièred at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 9 November 1893. It was not successful in its day and has never become part of the standard repertoire.
The opera is set in RenaissanceItaly and concerns intrigues centering around the Medici family. Giuliano de' Medici loves Simonetta Cattanei, who tries to warn him of the conspiracy against his family. But she is killed by Montesecco, a murderer hired by Pope Sixtus V. Giuliano is killed by the conspirators, but Lorenzo de' Medici escapes with the help of the poet Poliziano. He then wins the support of the people, who lynch the conspirators.
A recording of the opera was released in 2010 on Deutsche Grammophon featuring Placido Domingo as Giuliano de Medici. It was recorded in July 2007 at Teatro Comunale in Florence.