Verdi’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ at CMC Saturday
Ryan Summerlin December 6, 2012
The next live simulcast from the New York Metropolitan Opera will be the new David Alden production of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (“The Masked Ball”), showing at 10:55 a.m. Saturday in the Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge.
On the heels of last week’s simulcast of Mozart’s “La Clemeza di Tito,” the storyline of “Un Ballo in Maschera” also involves a conspiracy to assassinate the King.
In fact, the opera reenacts a true historical event, the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden. On March 16, 1792, King Gustav III was attending a masked ball, at midnight, at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. Soon upon entering the ballroom, the king was surrounded by Count Anckarström (the assassin) and his co-conspirators, Count Claes Fredrik Horn and Count Adolf Ludvig Ribbing, and the deadly act committed.
While the assassination is based on a historical event, a love triangle between the king, Amelia (wife of Count Anckarström) and Anckarström is fabricated. Amelia is sung by American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, who exhibits a powerful voice described by the Associated Press as “penetrating the house with radiant sound.” Count Anckarström is sung by Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who acts the part with self-centering grace and sings in dark baritone accentuated with subtle phrasing. The part of “the conflicted king” is sung by Argentinean lyric tenor, Marcelo Álvarez.
Of interest to local opera fans, Count Horn is acted and sung by Colorado native athlete and bass-baritone, Keith Miller. His vocal performance has been described as dark and noble in tone. Also in the cast are mezzo soprano, Dolora Zajick, singing the role of Ulrica, the fortune teller, and soprano Kathleen Kim, bedecked with goatee and mustache as the king’s page.
“The cast does much conscientious posing, lurching, dancing, prancing and grovelling,” wrote reviewer Martin Bernheimer. Each of the choral performances are conducted with superior blend and gusto. The orchestra, under the baton of conductor Fabio Luisi, performs with bright clarity and precision throughout.
The stage settings have received mixed reviews – in particular, the large painting of Greek mythology depicting Icarus plunging to his death after flying too close to the sun as an allegory for Gustav III trying to push himself to achieve the impossible. Whether or not the stage effects fairly represent the story – both visually and allegorically – is subject to debate.
The opera starts at 10:55 a.m., but interested parties can attend a 30-minute preview at CMC at 10 a.m. Snack foods and beverages will be served during intermission.