On a stage dominated by a gigantic painting of Icarus, the Greek mortal whose wax and feather wings melted because he flew too close to the sun, the story of Swedens King Gustav IIIs fall from grace and assassination at the hand of his trusted adviser and confidant, Count Anckarström, unfolds in the Metropolitan Operas new production of Giuseppe Verdis Un Ballo in Maschera.
Written in 1859, Un Ballo in Maschera ran afoul of the local censors because this tragic tale of arrogance, poor judgment, illicit love, jealousy, betrayal, conspiracy, revenge and regicide was deemed an unsuitable subject for the Italian stage.
The 1792 assassination of Gustav was the subject of a number of 19th century operatic compositions, but Verdi and his librettist Antonio Somma were forced by the local censors to change locale to colonial America.
Director David Alden, making his Metropolitan Opera debut, returned the action to Sweden and updated the production to the early 20th century.
Verdi crafted a beautiful, tuneful score that presents its greatest musical challenges to the prima donna Amelia, wife of Anckarström and ill-fated love interest of Gustav. Sondra Radvanovsky lends her gleaming, voluminous lyric soprano to the demanding role of Amelia. Lyric tenor Marcelo Álvarez creates the role of the doomed king.
The vocally honeyed Dmitri Hvorotovsky assays the jilted husband, Anckarström. American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe sings the soothsayer role of Ulrica, and soprano Kathleen Kim soars through the pyrotechnic role of Oscar, courtier and friend of Gustav. Fabio Luisi leads the superstar cast and orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera in this live in HD performance of Verdis masterpiece.
Un Ballo in Maschera
When: 12:55 p.m. Saturday, opera chat begins at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors and students