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11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 June 2006
Giuseppe Verdi
Un ballo in maschera
Melodram in three acts
Libretto by Antonio Somma
Conductor Stefano Ranzani
Director, Set and Costumes Designer Pier Luigi Pizzi
Assistant director Paolo Panizza
Assistant Costumes Designer Lorena Marin
Lights Designer Guido Levi

Fondazione Teatro Massimo Orchestra and Chorus
New production




Cast

Riccardo Vincenzo La Scola June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Giuseppe Gipali June 13, 15, 17, 20
Renato Vladimir Stoyanov June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Nicola Alaimo June 13, 15, 17, 20
Amelia Micaela Carosi June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Hui He June 13, 15, 17, 20
Ulrica Brigitte Pinter June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Annamaria Chiuri June 13, 15, 17, 20
Oscar Roberta Canzian June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Rosanna Savoia June 13, 15, 17, 20
Silvano Mattia Nicolini June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Alessandro Battiato June 13, 15, 17, 20
Samuel Maurizio Lo Piccolo June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Ugo Guagliardo June 13, 15, 17, 20
Tom Danilo Rigosa June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Manrico Signorini June 13, 15, 17, 20
Un giudice Pietro Luppina June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Francesco Polizzi June 13, 15, 17, 20
Un servo Vincenzo Monteleone June 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
Carlo Morgante June 13, 15, 17, 20



Timetable

Sunday 11 June 8.30 pm PREMIERE
Tuesday 13 June 6.30 pm S/1
Wednesday 14 June 6.30 pm B
Thursday 15 June 6.30 pm S/2
Friday 16 June 6.30 pm C
Saturday 17 June 8.30 pm F
Sunday 18 June 5.30 pm D
Tuesday 20 June 6.30 pm Single tickets only
Wednesday 21 June 6.30 pm E
Thursday 22 June 8.30 pm CANCELLED




Pictures
(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Pictures of the opera Un ballo in maschera
Ensemble

Riccardo

Riccardo and Renato


Riccardo and Oscar

Ensemble

Ensemble

Ensemble

Riccardo

Riccardo, Renato and Oscar

Riccardo, il giudice and Oscar

Ulrica and Silvano

Ulrica, Samuel and Tom
Foto di scena dell'opera Vanessa
Amelia and Riccardo

Amelia and Riccardo

Ensemble
Foto di scena dell'opera Vanessa
Amelia and Oscar

Ensemble

Ensemble
Foto di scena dell'opera Vanessa
Ensemble

Amelia and Riccardo

Amelia and Riccardo


Pictures Franco Lannino ©Studio Camera


Synopsis

ACT I
Friends and courtiers of Riccardo await him in the throne room of the palace, among them a group of conspirators led by Samuel and Tom. As Riccardo enters, his page, Oscar, gives him the guest list for a masked ball. Seeing the name of Amelia – wife of his first minister Renato – he muses on his secret passion for her. As the others leave, the page admits Renato himself, who says he knows the cause of the Riccardo’s disturbed look: a conspiracy against him. But Riccardo ignores his friend’s warning.

A magistrate arrives with a decree banishing the fortune teller Ulrica, who has been accused of witchcraft. When Riccardo asks Oscar’s opinion, the youth describes her skill at stargazing and urges him to absolve her of any crime. Deciding to see for himself, and overruling the objections of Renato, Riccardo light-heartedly bids the court join him in an incognito visit to the soothsayer.

As Ulrica mutters incantations before a group of women, Riccardo discreetly enters disguised as a fisherman. The fortune teller begins her prophecies by telling the sailor Christiano (Silvano) that he will soon prosper. Riccardo surreptitiously slips money and a promotion into the satchel of the seaman, who discovers it and marvels at the fortune teller’s powers. Riccardo stays in hiding when Ulrica sends her visitors away to grant an audience to Amelia, who comes seeking release from her love for Riccardo. Ulrica tells her she must gather at night a magic herb that grows by the gallows; Amelia hurries away as Riccardo, having overheard the conversation, resolves to follow her. A moment later Oscar and members of the court enter, and Riccardo, still disguised as a fisherman, mockingly asks Ulrica to read his palm. When she says he will die by the hand of a friend, Riccardo laughs. Still incredulous, Riccardo asks her to identify the assassin, to which she replies that the next hand he shakes is the one that will kill him. No one will shake “the fisherman’s” hand, but upon seeing Renato arrive, he hurries to clasp his hand and says that the oracle is now disproved since Renato is his most loyal friend. Riccardo is recognized, and is hailed by the crowd above the muttered discontent of the conspirators.

ACT II

Amelia arrives by the gallows and desperately prays that the herb she seeks will release her from her passion for Riccardo. As a distant bell tolls midnight, she is terrified by an apparition and prays to heaven for mercy. Riccardo arrives, and unable to resist his ardent words, Amelia confesses she loves him but quickly veils her face when her husband rushes in to warn Riccardo to flee approaching assassins.

Riccardo, fearing that Renato may discover Amelia’s identity, leaves only after the Captain promises to escort her back to the city without lifting her veil. Finding Renato instead of their intended victim, the conspirators curse their luck. The husband draws his sword when they make insolent remarks about his veiled companion; to save her husband’s life, Amelia raises her veil. While the conspirators laugh at this irony, Renato asks their two leaders to come to his house the next morning and Amelia laments her disgrace.

ACT III

Dragging Amelia into their home, Renato tells her that he intends to kill her; Amelia asks to see her young son before she dies. Granting her wish, Renato turns to a portrait of Riccardo and exclaims that it is not on Amelia that he should seek vengeance, but on Riccardo. He is interrupted by Samuel and Tom; now united in purpose, they cannot agree who should have the privilege of assassinating Riccardo. Amelia returns just as the men prepare to draw lots. Forcing his wife to choose the fatal slip of paper from a vase, Renato rejoices when she draws his name. A moment later Oscar brings an invitation to a masked ball at the opera house. While the men hail this chance to execute their plan, Amelia plans to warn Riccardo.

Alone in his apartment, Riccardo resolves to renounce his love, and to send Amelia and Renato to Finland. Oscar delivers a letter to Riccardo from an unknown lady warning him of the murder plot. Not wanting his absence to be taken as a sign of cowardice, Riccardo leaves for the masquerade. In the Royal Opera House ballroom, festivities are in progress. The three conspirators wander through the crowd trying to learn the disguise of Riccardo. Renato, taking Oscar aside, tries to persuade the youth to reveal the Riccardo’s identity and is successful only after the boy’s playful evasions. Recognizing Amelia, Riccardo speaks with her; despite her repeated warning, he refuses to leave. Just as the lovers bid a final farewell, Renato, overhearing the last part of their conversation, plunges his dagger into Riccardo. The dying Riccardo forgives Renato, and admits he loved Amelia but assures the remorseful captain of his wife’s innocence. The crowd bewails the loss of such a generous-hearted Riccardo.




Notes

Finally, in Un ballo in maschera by Verdi, who was about forty five years old when he wrote this, we see a true love duet that is consummated in an almost indecent fashion; so much so that it occurred to Mila – and really it doesn’t go that far – to compare it to Tristan. But even this way of evoking and optimising an erotic text as regards 19th century opera in general, in the case of Un Ballo does have a specific reason; because in Un Ballo, Verdi takes possession once and for all of this extraordinary reoccurring artistic theme, and, as if feeling finally inoculated, he abandons this subject for ever, to return to more sedate, even if at times somewhat emotional family affections, friendships, jealousy, disgust, betrayals , political passion, or maybe more overt lust, so overt as to appear just as a natural process, and thus appearing in way which could almost be described as chaste.

An attempt was made again in  La Forza del Destino to take up this theme, and make it of central importance: but what can we say of a soprano and a tenor who, with the exception of seven minutes from the moment the curtain rises, and five minutes before the conclusion of the opera, remain constantly separated? To sum up, the characters of Don Alvaro and Leonora in La Forza  show in this way that they are not given the opportunity to repeat the dazzling enlightening effect generated by the leading pair in Un Ballo. In any case, La Forza, in many ways, attempts on several occasions to create the same atmosphere of rejuvenation in vivacity that we see in Il Ballo, an interesting concept which, given more time, we could follow up in more detail.

But let us return to Il Ballo. This love story, from the point of view of its abundance of erotic desire, and with all that is irrational brought to bear on it, provides the fulcrum of the opera, and this effect is achieved in the most direct and obvious way; that of simply placing the love duet as the central point of the score: a device that Wagner, in Tristan, would emulate in the years immediately following this, and for the same reasons, that is, to create this same effect: and, naturally, the similarity begins and ends here.

Gabriele Baldini
(from Abitare la battaglia, Garzanti, Milano, 1983,  pp 283-284)