Verdi’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera” (“A Masked Ball”) is the Maryland Lyric Opera’s second production in an all-Verdi season featuring some of the composer’s best-loved works. In true Verdi fashion, “Un Ballo” includes high drama, fantastical characters, a dangerous love triangle, and of course, a stunning twist in the opera’s final moments.
…the Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra, under conductor Andrea Licata, takes center stage, putting both the music and vocal artistry into sharper focus…make your way to beautiful Strathmore, and take your place at the ball!
Set in Boston during the British colonial era, Riccardo, the Governor of Boston (Tenor Arturo Chacon-Cruz), is madly in love with Amelia (Soprano Indira Mahajan), who is the wife of his most devoted friend and confidant, Renato (baritone Aleksey Bogdanov). Distracted by his passion for Amelia, Riccardo ignores warnings that his enemies are plotting against him, even when those warnings come from the fortune teller, Ulrica (Mezzo-Soprano Daryl Freedman), whose magical powers predict that Riccardo will soon face an untimely end. When Riccardo’s page, Oscar (Soprano Aitana Sanz), appears with invitations to a masked ball, the co-conspirators, Samuel (Baritone Michael Pitocchi) and Tom (Bass-Baritone Adam Cioffari), see the perfect opportunity to execute their plans. In a shocking turn, however, they are no longer scheming alone.
The cast features two outstanding mezzo-sopranos. Freedman sang an electrifying “Re dell’abisso, affrettati” (“King of the abyss, make haste”), and Sanz delivered a light and charming “Saper vorreste’ (“You want to know”). Mahajan sings a compelling, “Morrò, ma prima in grazia” (“I will die, but first, a kindness”), and Chacon-Cruz, an unforgettable “Ma se m’è forza perderti (“But if I am forced to lose her”). Maryland Lyric Opera Chorus, led by Chorus Master Husan Park, maintains a balanced and beautiful blend throughout Verdi’s demanding choral work, most notably in its rendition of “Posa in pace” (“Rest in Peace”).
Typically, the orchestra is out of sight, but in this concert version, the Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra, under conductor Andrea Licata, takes center stage, putting both the music and vocal artistry into sharper focus, and making it possible for a certain opera “unplugged” experience. The stage is not entirely bare of scenery. Projection Designer Sarah Tundermann provides screens brimming with symbolism plucked from the narrative that are eye-catching but also well integrated with the English subtitles.
Live performance can seem out of reach for many, but the Maryland Lyric Opera’s commitment to making opera an accessible art form extends to its ticket prices, including student seats that start at $10 and special offer tickets beginning at $29.50. So, grab a mask, make your way to beautiful Strathmore, and take your place at the ball!
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 45 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.
Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” runs November 11 and 13, 2022 at The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information about the Maryland Lyric Opera or to buy tickets, click here. The opera is sung in Italian with projected English subtitles.