Masked Ball, A (Un ballo in maschera)

Opera in three acts, libretto by Antonio Somma

Composer: Verdi, Giuseppe 1813 - 1901

Version: English version by Edmund Tracey (made for English National Opera)

Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball - 1859) combines political intrigue, forbidden love and assassination, and is loosely based on an 1833 play about the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden, who was shot while attending a masked ball. The original libretto retained the names of some of the historical figures involved, the conspiracy, and the killing at the ball. However, before becoming the opera as we it know today, it was forced to undergo a series of transformations, caused by a combination of regulations and political censorship. SYNOPSIS: Riccardo, the Governor of Boston, is planning a masked ball. He is in love with his secretary, Renato’s wife, Amelia. Renato warns Riccardo of an assassination plot. Amelia visits a fortune-teller, Ulrica, to help her try and forget her feelings for Riccardo. Later, Riccardo and Renato (both disguised) also visit Ulrica. Ulrica tells Riccardo that the next person that he shakes hands with will be the person who kills him. Riccardo and Renato laugh, and they shake hands. Later, Amelia and Riccardo meet and confess their love. Renato arrives to warn Riccardo of the gang outside that awaits him. Amelia covers her face, hoping that her husband will not recognize her. Riccardo asks Renato to take Amelia, but to not reveal her face to anyone. In the ensuing confusion, Amelia’s identity is revealed. Renato vows vengeance, and decides to side with the conspirators. At the ball, Renato and the two conspirators draw lots to see who shall kill Riccardo. Renato forces Amelia to draw the name, and she draws Renato’s. Amelia sees and recognizes Riccardo at the ball. She pleads with him to leave, but Renato shoots Riccardo. He dies, begging that his death not be avenged.