Un ballo in maschera | Giuseppe Verdi
Few Verdi operas incited as many problems with censorship as A Masked Ball. For many in 1859, its debut year, a drama involving regicide, a scene of magic and an extramarital affair was scandalous: for Verdi it was an irresistible challenge. During the opera, two radically different events are afoot: a party and a conspiracy. The central character is Riccardo, governor of Boston, who, unaware of the danger he is in, is thinking only of his love for Amelia, the wife of his faithful friend Renato. It is precisely the discovery of these feelings that triggers Renato’s jealousy, prompting him to join the conspirators in order to seek revenge during the fateful masked ball.
A Masked Ball demonstrates a masterful balance of comedy and tragedy; the frivolity of the page Oscar, the only en travesti character in all of Verdi’s theatrical works, and the passion of the love duet in Act II and Renato’s great aria “Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima”. Verdi’s masterpiece sees the glorious return of the maestro Riccardo Muti, who, with this new production, confirms his complete harmony with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio. In the role of Renato, there is a long-awaited debut for Luca Micheletti, protagonist of the last Don Giovanni. There will be new scenery on stage, designed by a true star of Italian theatre as Andrea De Rosa.
Riccardo Muti official website www.riccardomutimusic.com
Lecture-Concert: Wednesday 14 February at 6 pm - Piccolo Regio Puccini
Melodramma in three acts
Characters and cast
Durante questa recita è attivo il Bimbi Club
During this performance the Baby Club is available
Count Riccardo of Warwick, the Governor of Boston, is awaited by the members of his entourage. Among them, however, are those – like Samuel and Tom – who feel themselves to be victims of past injustices and harbour plans of revenge.
The count is announced by his page, Oscar, who presents him with the guest list for an imminent ball. Riccardo is troubled to see among the names that of Amelia, the wife of Renato – his closest collaborator – whom he is secretly in love with.
Renato himself appears, and informs him about rumours of an imminent attempt on his life, but Riccardo does not want to know the details and minimizes the danger, feeling adequately protected by the love of his subjects. Oscar then shows in a judge, who presents him with a sentence of banishment against a fortune-teller named Ulrica. Riccardo is perplexed, and Oscar takes her side. Intrigued by the figure of the sorceress, the count invites everyone to go with him – in disguise – to meet her.
In the fortune-teller’s hovel, a naïve and excited crowd observes her celebrating a ritual to conjure up infernal powers. Riccardo arrives. The fortune-teller predicts that the sailor Silvano will soon be repaid for the sacrifices he made while in the count’s service. Riccardo, unobserved, slides a purse and an officer’s licence into the man’s pockets; when Silvano discovers them, his (and the crowd’s) surprise turns into acclamations to the sorceress. When a servant announces the arrival of a lady, awaited for a private consultation, the fortune-teller asks everyone to go out; Riccardo, however, having recognized Amelia’s servant, finds a hiding-place from where he can listen to the conversation between the two women. Amelia asks for advice to remove guilty love from her heart, and Ulrica tells her that the remedy is a magic herb that she must retrieve herself from a desolate area on the edge of the city where the gallows stand. From outside, protests are heard, so Ulrica sends Amelia away and lets the bizarre crowd enter: it is the company of disguised courtiers. Riccardo, pretending to be a fisherman, asks Ulrica to tell his fortune. She realizes that she is being fooled, but yields at Riccardo’s insistence, and predicts his imminent end. The courtiers are disturbed: Samuel and Tom fear that their conspiracy will be revealed. Instead, Riccardo derides both the prophecy and the gullibility of his friends, and asks Ulrica to provide further details. Riccardo, she says, will be assassinated by the first man to take his hand. In that moment, Renato arrives and greets the count warmly. Everyone is relieved: Riccardo will certainly not be killed by his best friend. The count reproaches Ulrica good-naturedly, saying that, with all her clairvoyance, she didn’t know the identity of the man standing before her, nor imagine that a decree of banishment had been hanging over her head. The sorceress thanks him for his magnanimity, but repeats her dark omen. In that moment, preceded by Silvano, the crowd enters and joyfully hails Riccardo, by now unmasked.
Amelia goes to the place indicated by Ulrica; she is determined to renounce her own guilty love, although she knows her life will become meaningless to her. Riccardo, who has followed her, confronts her and immediately gets the better of her fragile resistence: Amelia throws herself into his arms. But steps are heard! Amelia covers her face as Renato arrives; he has followed the count in order to warn him that assassins are on his tracks. Riccardo lets himself be persuaded to disappear, but makes his friend promise to escort his companion back to the city without attempting to learn who she is. Renato invites the veiled woman to follow him, but their way is immediately blocked by the conspirators. Abashed by having surprised Renato, and not the count, the conspirators uncover the woman’s face and abandon themselves to sarcastic remarks about the fact that a man should chose such a place to withdraw with his own wife. Renato, devastated, asks Samuel and Tom to meet him the next day.
The next day, Renato coldly warns Amelia that her tears serve no purpose: she will have to pay for her infidelity with her own life. Left alone, he curses Riccardo, responsible for putting an end to his family’s happiness. Samuel and Tom, arriving for the appointment, are astonished to learn that Renato intends to join the conspiracy. Renato cruelly forces Amelia to draw one of their names from an urn containing three pieces of paper; destiny has reserved for him the role of executioner. Oscar then arrives with the official invitation to the party that evening: it will be a magnificent masked ball. The three men agree that that will be the ideal moment to take their revenge, while Amelia desperately asks herself how she can warn Riccardo.
Alone in his study, Riccardo decides to renounce Amelia, and to arrange for the immediate return to England of her and Renato. Oscar brings him an anonymous note warning him about what is about to take place, but the count decides to participate all the same in the party; he does not intend to give an impression of weakness to his enemies, and moreover, he does not intend to renounce seeing Amelia one last time. The splendid ball begins. Oscar does not want to reveal the count’s mask, but yields when Renato convinces him that he must communicate grave news. Amelia confronts Riccardo, urging him once more to save himself, and Riccardo tells her of his decision to renounce her, when Renato shoots him. Riccardo swears to his friend that Amelia is pure, shows him the decree of promotion with which he would have sent him back to his homeland, and dies pronouncing words of forgiveness for his enemies and a moving farewell to his country and its people.