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STARRING OLESYA PETROVA

Un ballo in maschera

opera in three acts
music by Giuseppe Verdi

3 hours 25 minutes
two intervals
itperformed in Italian (with Russian surtitles)
12+for viewers over 12 years old
Un ballo in maschera
Artists
Gustav — Fyodor Ataskevich
Renato — Dmitry Darov
Amelia — Maria Litke
Ulrica — Olesya Petrova

Conductor — Mikhail Tatarnikov
Credits
Libretto by Antonio Somma and Francesco Maria Piave after the play Gustave III by Eugène Scribe

Musical Director of the production: Peter Feranec
Stage Director: Andrejs Žagars
Stage Designer: Andris Freibergs
Costume Designer: Kristine Pasternaka
Costume Technology: Alla Marusina
Lighting Designer: Kevin W. Jones
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Chorus: Vladimir Stolpovskikh
Choreography: Elita Bukowska
Assistant to Stage Director: Dace Wohlfahrte
Assistant to Stage Designer: Elena Zykova
Director: Yulia Prokhorova
Assistant to Director: Vyacheslav Kalyuzhny
Principal Pianist: Marc Vayner
Chorus Masters: Alexey Dmitriev, Sergey Tsyplenkov
Rehearsal Conductor: Andrey Velikanov
Music Style and Language Répétiteur: Paolo Di Napoli
Consultant in the Italian language: Daria Mitrofanova
Surtitles: Margarita Kunitsyna-Tankevich
Stage Manager: Olga Kokh

Sets and costumes produced at the Vozrozhdenie Theatrical Design Studios

Premiere of the production: 21 July 2010

Un ballo in maschera is one of Giuseppe Verdi’s crowning achievements. The opera is distinguished by the beauty of its vocal parts, the expressiveness of its ensemble singing, the brilliance of the orchestration, and by what Russian theatre historians often call ’Shakespearian might’. Verdi has constructed a musical drama around a series of contrasting moods, leavened the mysterious and gloomy scenes with a light lyricism, and framed the tragic denouement in the energetic gaiety of a costumed ball.

At the heart of the fable is a story of political conspiracy which gets mixed up with personal revenge. Since the opera’s libretto had to undergo a series of rewritings due to censorship, today’s producers are at liberty to choose the time and place in which the opera takes place, in keeping with their own artistic concept. In the Mikhailovsky Theatre production, we see a story of the turn of the century: at the start of the 20th century, empires crumbled, and a familiar way of life disappeared together with them.

ACT I

Scene 1
A hall in the palace of King Gustav. The morning audience starts: Oscar the page hands the King a guest list for the upcoming masked ball. The name of Amelia on the list reminds him of his love for her. However, Gustav hides his love as she is married to his best friend and secretary, Renato.
As the courtiers disperse, Renato enters to warn Gustav of plots against his life led by two aristocrats, Tom and Samuel.
Credulous Gustav plays down the plot. He knows no fear.
Next to appear is a judge who produces petitions to be solved. He requests that Gustav exile Ulrica, a fortune-teller suspected of supernatural practices. The accuse makes the King curious and Gustav decides that he and his followers will disguise themselves and pay a personal call on Ulrica.

Scene 2
Ulrica’s dwelling. The fortune-teller is surrounded by a crowd of people. Disguised as a fisherman, Gustav hides in the shadow and listens to the story of Silvano, a sailor. He has served the King and has taken part in many sea battles. Now he asks Ulrica to divine his future. Ulrica predicts wealth and a commission, something that Gustav promptly brings to pass by secreting gold and the appropriate papers in Silvano’s bag. Silvano discovers his new-found wealth and all join in praise of Ulrica. The King enjoys Silvano’s happiness and people’s astonishment.
They are interrupted by a newcomer arrived who requests for his mistress an interview with Ulrica. Ulrica dismisses the crowd; but Gustav, who has recognized Amelia’s servant, remains in his hiding place as Amelia comes in.
Amelia asks Ulrica to rid her of the forbidden love that torments her. The King is happy to hear that Amelia’s secret love is himself. Ulrica agrees to help the woman in love and tells her of a herb that grows in the gallows-field and must be picked by Amelia at night. Amelia prays that she may be healed and Gustav, still hidden, vows to follow her on her quest.
As Amelia departs, Ulrica’s dwelling is filled with Gustav’s entourage. Gustav is the first to ask for his fortune but Ulrica refuses to tell. When Ulrica warns of imminent death at the hands of the man who first shakes his hand, Gustav laughs it off. He offers his friends to shake hands but everybody refuses: even Tom and Samuel are afraid that they will be suspected before they’re ready for the plot.
The prophecy is seemingly made absurd by the faithful Renato who hurries on soon after and immediately clasps his master’s hand.
A crowd led by Silvano returns to Ulrica’s dwelling: he has told everybody of his luck and now is looking for the benefactor. The people honor the King.

ACT II

Scene 3
At night Amelia arrives at the gallows to pluck the herb. Gustav who has secretly followed her appears and confesses her love. Renato arrives to warn the King that conspirators are closing in. Amelia veils herself at her husband’s approach. Renato and Gustav exchange cloaks to mislead the conspirators. Renato persuades the King to escape immediately but firsthand Gustav asks Renato to escort the veiled lady back to the city. But they are waylaid by the conspirators who find out that they have caught the secretary instead of the King. They decide to amuse themselves by seeing the face of the mysterious woman. When it becomes clear that Renato, in his loyalty to the Count, will fight rather than permit this, Amelia accidentally drops her veil.
The conspirators cannot contain their mirth at the notion of Renato’s nocturnal assignation with his own wife. Renato is astounded: he shouldn’t have trusted either his wife or is best friend. In a fit of jealousy, asks the conspirators to his house the next day.
Left alone with Amelia he orders her to go home with him: he’s sworn to see her to the city and will keep his word.

ACT III

Scene 4
Renato’s house. Finding Renato determined to kill her, Amelia begs to be allowed to bid their son farewell. Left alone, Renato reflects that he should rather kill Gustav. As day breaks, Samuel and Tom arrive. He demands to join in their conspiracy and to kill himself the King. The conspirators don’t agree and they elect to draw lots to decide who will strike the fatal blow. , and Renato takes advantage of Amelia’s return to force her to draw the lot. Amelia doesn’t know what she’s involved in but is filled with foreboding. She has drawn the lot with Renato’s name.
Oscar the page brings an invitation to the masked ball and the conspirators decide that the king is going to be assassinated that night.

Scene 5
Gustav is alone. He has decided to abdicate from Amelia as he can’t betray his best friend. That’s why he has just signed a paper sending Renato and Amelia to another city. He’ll never see his beloved Amelia. Oscar brings an unsigned letter of the plot. The letter was written by Amelia but Gustav but he pays no attention to it. In the ballroom the celebration has started. Renato finds out what costume the King is wearing. Amelia recognizes Gustav too. She begs him to leave the ball. He confesses his love again and says that they should never see each other again. Renato shoots the King and tries to escape. The courtiers catch the murderer and take off his mask. Dying Gustav passes Renato the paper showing he intended to send them both away and swears nothing has ever happened between him and Amelia. He forgives Renato and forbids revenge. His last words call for peace between those in discord.
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