Information

Melodramma in three acts

Composer Giuseppe Verdi · Libretto by Antonio Somma
In Italian with English and German surtitles | New Production

Monday, 28. March 2016
06:00 pm – 08:55 pm
Nationaltheater

Duration est. 2 hours 55 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. Akt and 2. + 3. Akt (est. 07:00 pm - 07:30 pm )

Introductory Event: 05:00 PM

Open ticket sales. The number of tickets per customer is reduced to 4.

Premiere at 06. March 2016

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Cast

Musikalische Leitung
Zubin Mehta
Inszenierung
Johannes Erath
Bühne
Heike Scheele
Kostüme
Gesine Völlm
Video
Lea Heutelbeck
Licht
Joachim Klein
Dramaturgie
Malte Krasting
Chor
Sören Eckhoff

Riccardo
Piotr Beczala
Renato
George Petean
Amelia
Anna Pirozzi
Ulrica
Okka von der Damerau
Oscar
Sofia Fomina
Silvano
Andrea Borghini
Samuel
Anatoli Sivko
Tom
Scott Conner
Oberster Richter
Ulrich Reß
Diener Amelias
Joshua Owen Mills
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

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A governor, his friend, the friend's wife. A love triangle straight out of a romance novel. The soprano between the tenor and the baritone. But, in Verdi's Ballo in maschera all the protagonists are two-faced. Riccardo, the governor, is lauded as a just sovereign, yet shirks responsibility and seeks refuge from tedium in all manner of distractions - the ultimate kick for a man such as he can only be to risk his own life. 

Renato loves his friend Riccardo almost more than his wife; and she, Amelia, wants not only to eradicate all feelings for Riccardo, but, if possible, even more. Ulrica, the fortune teller, is the shadowy influence who evokes in people an irresistible pull towards death - until the culmination of the dance on the volcano in a deadly masked ball. Composed in 1858 for Naples, the opera was not allowed to be performed there for reasons of censorship. After radical editing, the premiere finally took place in Rome and to this day remains one of the most performed, but also most mysterious of Verdi's works.

 

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First act 

A room at Riccardo's house


While the governor Riccardo is asleep, he is being expected by numerous petitioners wishing him peace and quiet and assuring him of their loyalty. Samuel, Tom and their followers who have conspired against Riccardo and are seeking revenge secretly mingle amongst the crowd. Riccardo promises to be responsive to all the justified pleas but his attention is quickly distracted by the guest list of his upcoming ball. He notices the name of Amelia on that list. The mere thought of seeing her again makes him dream. His friend and most trusted advisor Renato, who is also Amelia's husband, is unaware of these thoughts. Renato warns Riccardo of a threatening attack and reminds him of his duties. Riccardo is not willing to be protected and therefore ignores the threat. The highest judge wants to banish the fortuneteller Ulrica. Oscar, Riccardo's page, defends Ulrica and emphasizes how all her prophecies have turned out to be true. Deciding to see for himself, Riccardo persuades everyone to pay Ulrica a visit in disguise at exactly three o'clock.

At the hut of the fortuneteller

Ulrica invokes prophetic spirits from whom nothing can be hidden. Riccardo – disguised as a fisherman –manages to mingle amongst the visitors at Ulrica's without being noticed. Ulrica promises a soldier named Silvano that he will soon become wealthy and receive a promotion. Riccardo makes the fortune of Silvano come true by slipping money and a note into his pocket. As Ulrica sends all her visitors away to admit Amelia, Riccardo secretly stays to eavesdrop on their conversation. Amelia begs for help as she is being tormented by her adulterous feelings for another man. She wishes to have a peaceful heart. Ulrica explains that the only way of finding peace, is by gathering by the gallows at midnight. Riccardo decides to follow Amelia. As the followers of Riccardo, including the judge and Oscar, but also Samuel and Tom arrive at Ulrica's place, Riccardo continues to play his role as a fisherman. He asks Ulrica to have his fortune told. She sees a powerful person in him by reading his palm. She predicts his soon-to-be and violent death by the hand of a friend. It will be the next person who shakes his hand. Riccardo appears unimpressed and makes fun of Ulrica's prediction. He offers his hand to all those present, but nobody dares to take it. At this moment Renato arrives unaware of the prophecy and clasps Riccardo's hand in greeting, thereby revealing the governor's identity. Riccardo thinks himself safe because Renato is his closest friend. He is hailed by his followers.

Second act

A lonesome field in the surroundings of Boston

Amelia arrives at the gallows. Although she is intimidated by the scary landscape, she is determined to find the remedy which Ulrica had told her about, even if this means killing off all her feelings. Riccardo who had followed her makes her confess her love to him. In exuberance Riccardo suppresses his friendship to Renato. Amelia on the other hand is torn between obligation and desire and wants to die. Unexpectedly Renato appears to warn the governor of the conspirators, who are secretly following Riccardo. Amelia covers herself with a veil before her husband can catch sight of her. Renato and Riccardo exchange their coats so the governor is able to remain unrecognized. Riccardo fleas, making Renato promise to take the veiled woman safely back to town and not asking her identity. Renato and Amelia fall into the hands of the conspirators, who are surprised to see Renato instead of Riccardo. They want to know who the veiled woman is. Renato takes up arms in order to protect her. Amelia interferes by dropping her veil. Renato has to face the fact that his friend's secret lover is nobody else than his own wife Amelia. He is exposed to ridicule. He asks Samuel and Tom to meet him the very next day.

Third act

Study at Renato's house

Renato is in disbelief of the protestations of innocence of his wife and is determined to kill her. She asks to see their son before she dies. He grants her wish. After Amelia leaves, he comes to the conclusion that it is Riccardo who should be punished with death and not his wife. He lets Samuel and Tom know that he will join the conspirators. The pledge for his honesty shall be his own son. They decide to draw lots to determine who will kill Riccardo. Renato forces Amelia to choose from the slips of paper. His own name comes up. Oscar brings the invitation to the masked ball. Renato deems this celebration to be suitable for the attack and agrees on a sign with Samuel and Tom. Amelia suspects what the three men are plotting and intends to warn Riccardo.

A cabinet at Riccardo's house

Riccardo believes Amelia is safe. He decides to renounce his love to Amelia and to send Renato and his family into another country. Oscar hands him over an anonymous letter in which Riccardo is warned about an attack on the very same evening. Riccardo does not want to be called a coward and plans to attend the ball anyway. There, he wants to say goodbye to Amelia forever.

A ballroom

At the ball Renato learns from Oscar what costume Riccardo is wearing. Amelia recognizes him in his disguise and warns him again. Riccardo still ignores the warning. He explains his decision and bids her a last farewell. At the very same moment Renato fires a shot at Riccardo. With his last breath Riccardo assures his friend Renato that Amelia is innocent as she never broke her marriages vows, and forgives everyone.

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Biographies

Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 and grew up in a musical family in his native Bombay. After first studying medicine for two semesters he concentrated on music in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class at the Vienna academy.

Zubin Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize-winner at the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood. By his mid-twenties he had already conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and retains close ties with both.

Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 becoming Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1962, a post he retained until 1978. In 1969 he also became Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made Music Director of that orchestra in 1977. In 1981 he was made Music Director for life. Zubin Mehta has conducted nearly two thousand concert performances with this extraordinary ensemble on tours spanning five continents. In 1978 he became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history and, since 1985, he has been chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale in Florence.

Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1964. Since then he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and the opera houses of Montreal, Chicago and Florence as well as at the Salzburg Festival.

Zubin Mehta's list of awards and honours is extensive and includes the "Nikisch-Ring" from the Vienna Philharmonic as well as having been made, in 2001, an honorary member of the orchestra. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 1999 Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations by Lea Rabin. In April 2001 President Chirac created him "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur". In January 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed the title of "Honorary Conductor" on Zubin Mehta.

Zubin Mehta has been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra from 1998 to 2006. Quite apart from his commitments and responsibilities for the musical leadership of new productions, repertory performances and concerts associated with this position, he has also led the State Orchestra on two major European tours and the whole opera company on tours to Japan.

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