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234th Season

Un ballo in maschera (Masquerade) (melodrama in three acts)

Franca Squarciapino, Costume Designer
Vinicio Cheli, Lighting Designer
Maestro Valery Gergiev, Musical Director
Irina Soboleva, Musical Preparation
Andrei Petrenko, Principal Chorus Master
Andrei Konchalovsky, Stage Director
Performed in Italian (with synchronised Russian supertitles)
World premiere: 17 Feb 1859 Teatro Regio (Parma, Italy)
Premiere of this production: 31 Jan 2001

The performance has 2 intermissions
Running time: 3 hours 40 minutes

Giuseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at the Mariinsky is ambitious show, staged by the famous film director Andrei Konchalovsky was presented by the Mariinsky Theatre in the year 100th anniversary of the composer's death at the music festival in his name in Italy.
The libretto is based on the assassination in 1792 of King Gustav III of Sweden who was killed as the result of a political conspiracy against him. He was shot while attending a masked ball.

Libretto by Antonio Somma, after the play Gustave III by Eugene Scribe
Co-production with the Verdi Festival, Italy
Premiere of this production at the Mariinsky Theatre: 13 May 2001, St Petersburg

Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball) is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. However, Somma's libretto was itself based on the five act libretto which playwright Eugиne Scribe had written for Daniel Auber's 1833 opera, Gustave III, ou Le bal masque.

Scribe wrote about the assassination in 1792 of King Gustav III of Sweden who was killed as the result of a political conspiracy against him. He was shot while attending a masked ball and died 13 days later from his wounds.

In order to become the Un ballo in maschera which we know today, Verdi's opera (and his libretto) was forced to undergo a significant series of transformations, caused by a combination of censorship regulations in both Naples and Rome, as well as by the political situation in France in January 1858.


Act 1
The Governor of Boston, Richard Earl of Warwick, receives his courtiers. He looks down the list of those invited to the ball and sees the name of Amelia, with whom he has long been secretly in love. The trouble is that Amelia is married - to his secretary Renato, who is also his best friend. Suddenly Renato himself appears to warn the Earl of a plot and to reveal the names of the traitors. Despite Renato's insistence, Richard refuses to listen to anything about conspirators (Alla vita che t'arride). At that moment Oscar, Richard's faithful page, announces the arrival of the chief judge, who wishes to obtain the Governor's signature on an order to banish the sorceress Ulrica from the city. Seizing the opportunity, the page intervenes on the sorceress's behalf, going into raptures about her gift of prophecy (Volta la terrea. Fornte alle stelle). Richard is amused by all this, and suggests that everybody disguise themselves and visit the fortune-teller (Ogni cura si doni al diletto).
Ulrica's hut. Among those awaiting prophecies is Earl Richard, dressed as a fisherman. Amelia also arrives to seek the sorceress's help in getting rid of her secret and forbidden love - her love for Earl Richard. Ulrica orders Amelia to go to the place where death sentences are carried out and gather a magic herb that will make her forget (Della citta all'occaso). After Amelia has left, Richard asks Ulrica to read his palm (Di' tu se fedele). The sorceress looks at his palm, then suddenly stops, looks sad, and refuses to tell him what she sees. Finally, at the Earl's insistence, Ulrica reveals that he will soon die - not in battle, but at the hand of a friend - the one who is the first to shake his hand. Everyone is horror-struck, but Richard refuses to believe the prophecy (E scherzo od follia). He holds out his hand, but nobody wants to shake it. At that moment Renato enters, greets the Earl and shakes his hand to the delight of his friends and the disappointment of the conspirators, because no-one believes that the devoted Renato could possibly murder the Earl. Richard nevertheless pays Ulrica for her fortune-telling. The choir sings the Earl's praises (O figlio d'Inghilterra).

Act 2
Midnight. In wasteland outside the city Amelia wanders in search of the magic herb (Ma dall'arido stelo divulsa) and unexpectedly meets Richard, who has followed her. In tears, Amelia begs him to leave. She no longer has the strength to suppress her feelings for him (Non sai tu che se l'anima mia). However, just at the moment when they are declaring their love for one another (Oh qual soave brivido), Renato appears. Terrified, Amelia covers her face with a veil. Renato warns Richard that Samuel and Tom want to kill him. Richard has to go away, leaving his beloved with her husband, who has not recognised her. But before he departs, Richard makes Renato swear that he will escort the lady back to the city, not attempting to find out who she is. Renato swears he will, and intends to hide her in a safe place. However, the conspirators Tom and Samuel prevent Renato from carrying out his intention. They have sought out Renato, knowing that their plans have been exposed, and now want to learn the identity of his mysterious companion. Renato tries to protect the lady, but in vain. When the conspirators start threatening Renato with death, Amelia lifts her veil herself. In astonishment Tom and Samuel subject the Governor's secretary to ridicule (Ve'se di notte qui colla sposa). Renato, who is filled with hate and desire for revenge, invites the conspirators to visit him the next day and returns to the city with Amelia.

Act 3
Renato's house. The deceived husband is ready to kill his wife there and then, but, heeding Amelia's entreaties (Morro, ma prima in grazia), he allows her to see her son for the last time. Left in solitude, Renato comes to his senses. His gaze rests on a portrait of Richard Earl of Warwick, and he decides that it would be better to kill him (Eri to che macchiavi quell'anima).
Tom and Samuel enter. Renato declares his readiness to join their plot. In order to convince the conspirators, he is prepared to swear on his son's life. Amelia is forced to draw lots to establish who is to kill Earl Richard. The lot falls to Renato. Oscar arrives with an invitation to a masked ball to be held that evening (Di che fulgor, che musiche). Renato decides that this will be the appropriate moment for retribution - the mask will help him carry out the murder. Meanwhile, Earl Richard is taking the decision to part with Amelia forever. He wishes to send her and her husband to England. A sense of foreboding is replaced by the desire to see her again (Ma se m'e forza perderti). Oscar the page passes Richard an anonymous letter which states that somebody will try to kill him at the ball. But Richard pays no attention to the warning: all he wants is to see Amelia once more (Si, rivederti, Amelia).
A hall in the Governor's palace. The masked ball is in full swing. Renato, learning from Oscar what costume the Earl is wearing (Saper vorreste), seeks him out among the guests and finds him at the very moment when he is declaring his love for Amelia for the last time and saying goodbye to her. Renato stabs his friend with a dagger and attempts to hide, but the Governor's guests catch the murderer and tear off his mask. Dying, Richard begs them to release his friend and tells him of the innocent nature of his love for Amelia (Ella e pura, in braccio a morte), and that he had parted with her forever.


Mariinsky Theatre:
1 Theatre Square
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky-2 (New Theatre):
34 Dekabristov Street
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky Concert Hall:
20 Pisareva street
St. Petersburg

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