San Francisco Opera continues its season of online opera productions on November 7th, with a performance from the Company’s archives of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera.
This dramatic tale of love, betrayal and revenge is Verdi’s interpretation of the assassination, in 1792, of King Gustav III of Sweden. The libretto is by Antonio Somma, whose text was apparently based on the libretto which French dramatist Eugène Scribe had written for Daniel Auber’s 1833 opera, Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué. In Verdi’s version, which premiered at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on February 17, 1859, the flirtatious King Gustav III is warned by both his trusted advisor, Count Anckarström, as well as a fortune-teller, of a plot against his life. The king doesn’t take either warning seriously, but when Anckarström discovers that the monarch is having an affair with his wife, things take a more serious turn.
The role of King Gustav in this production by San Francisco Opera is sung by Mexican tenor, Ramón Vargas, who made his debut with the Company in two performances of this role in 1999. American soprano, Julianna Di Giacomo, sings the role of Amelia, on whom the king has set his eye. A graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Ms Di Giacomo makes her first appearance with the Company in this production.
Count Anckarström – Gustav’s jealous and impulsive adviser – is sung by Thomas Hampson, regarded as one of America’s great baritones, who has appeared in a number of productions by San Francisco Opera, and the fortune teller, Madame Arvidson, is sung by American mezzo-soprano, Dolora Zajick, renowned for her portrayal of strong Verdi characters, and who has also enjoyed a long and impressive career at San Francisco Opera.
Soprano Heidi Stober returns to the Company in the trouser role of Oscar, the page, and other members of the cast are baritone Efraín Solís as Silvano and Christian Van Horn and Scott Conner as conspirators Sam and Tom.
San Francisco Opera’s production of Un Ballo in Maschera – recorded at the War Memorial House in 2014 – is directed by Jose Maria Condemi, and sung in Italian with English supertitles. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus – Director Ian Robertson – are conducted by Nicola Luisotti.
The opera will be available to view free of charge on the San Francisco Opera website on November 7th, starting at 10.00 am (Pacific Time) and expiring at 11:59 pm the following day.