Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Repertoire

Giovanni Pacini: Medea

Medea: Melodramma tragico in three acts.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Die Tote Stadt

Die Tote Stadt, an opera in three acts.

Music composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957). Libretto by Paul Schott (Julius and E. W. Korngold) after the novel Bruges la morte by Georges Rodenbach.

Stendhal on the Rossini Revolution

Some Details concerning the Revolution inaugurated by Rossini

PUCCINI: Manon Lescaut

Manon Lescaut, dramma lirico in quattro atti

STRAUSS : Elektra

Elektra: Tragedy in one act.

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycle

Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced both schedules and cast-lists for is Spring 2020 performances of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Given the series of individual productions already staged by the company since Fall 2016, that pave the way for the complete cycle, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s complete production should affirm the artistic might of the great composer.

Carlo Diacono: L’Alpino

“Diacono himself does not know what musical talent he possesses” – Mascagni

The Nibelungen-Myth. As Sketch for a Drama

From the womb of Night and Death was spawned a race that dwells in Nibelheim (Nebelheim), i.e. in gloomy subterranean clefts and caverns: Nibelungen are they called; with restless nimbleness they burrow through the bowels of the earth, like worms in a dead body; they smelt and smith hard metals.

Martín y Soler: Una cosa rara

Una cosa rara, ossia Bellezza ed onestà. Dramma giocoso in two acts.

Music composed by Vicente Martín y Soler (1754–1806). Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte from the comedy La luna de la Sierra by Luis Vélez de Guevara.

Mefistofele at Orange’s Chorégies

This is the one where a very personable devil tells God that mankind is so far gone it isn’t worth his time to bother corrupting it further.

A culinary coupling from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama

What a treat the London Music Conservatoires serve up for opera-goers each season. After the Royal Academy’s Bizet double-bill of Le docteur Miracle and La tragédie de Carmen, and in advance of the Royal College’s forthcoming pairing of Huw Watkins’ new opera, In the Locked Room, based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, and The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have delivered a culinary coupling of Paul Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner and Sir Lennox Berkeley’s The Dinner Engagement which the Conservatoire last presented for our delectation in November 2006.

THOMAS: Hamlet, Moscow 2015

Hamlet: Opéra in five acts. Music composed by Ambroise Thomas. Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier after The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare.

La Púrpura de la Rosa

Advertised in the program as the first opera written in the New World, La Púrpura de la Rosa (PR) was premiered in 1701 in Lima (Peru), but more than the historical feat, true or not, accounts for the piece’s interest.

Das Liebesverbot, Vienna 1962

Das Liebesverbot: Grosse komische Oper in two acts.

Lohengrin, Bayreuth 2010 Live

Opera in three acts. Words and music by Richard Wagner.

Parsifal, Bayreuth 2012 Live

Parsifal. Bühnenweihfestspiel (“stage dedication play”) in three acts.

Music from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“German poet, dramatist and novelist. One of the most important literary and cultural figures of his age, he was recognized during his lifetime for his accomplishments of almost universal breadth. However, it is his literary works that have most consistently sustained his reputation, and that also serve to demonstrate most clearly his many-faceted relationship to music. . . .

Operas Based on French Literature

Here are operas based on French literature from Balzac, Hugo and beyond:

Jules Massenet: Le Cid

Le Cid, Opéra in 4 acts

Vincenzo Bellini: I puritani

I puritani, opera seria in three acts



Maria Callas as Amelia (La Scala, 7 Dicembre 1957)
01 Feb 2009

VERDI: Un ballo in maschera — La Scala 1957

Un ballo in maschera: Melodramma in three acts

Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

Amelia: Maria Callas; Oscar: Eugenia Ratti; Renato (Count Ankarström): Ettore Bastianini; Riccardo (Gustavo III): Giuseppe di Stefano; Samuel (Count Ribbing): Marco Stefanoni; Silvano (Christiano): Giuseppe Morresi; Tom: Antonio Cassinelli; Ulrica: Giulietta Simionato; Un giudice: Angelo Mercuriali; Un servo: Antonio Ricci. Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala. Gianandrea Gavazzeni, conductor. Live performance, 7 December 1957, Milan.


Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Antonio Somma after Eugène Scribe’s libretto Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué.

First Performance: 17 February 1859, Teatro Apollo, Rome.

Principal Roles:
Riccardo, Count of Warwick, Governor of Boston Tenor
Renato, a Creole, his secretary, and husband of Amelia Baritone
Amelia Soprano
Ulrica, a fortune-teller Contralto
Oscar, a page Soprano
Silvano, a sailor Bass
Samuel Bass
Tom Bass
Un Giudice [A Judge] Tenor
Un servo d’Amelia [Amelia’s Servant] Tenor

Setting: In and around Boston, at the end of the 17th century


Act I

Scene 1. The governor’s house

Courtiers awaiting the arrival of the governor sing his praises, while malcontents conspire to bring about his downfall.

Riccardo contemplates the responsibilities of his position. The page Oscar hands him a list of guests for a ball; seeing the name of Amelia, he looks forward to seeing her again.

His secretary Renato, Amelia’s husband, warns him that there is a conspiracy afoot; but Riccardo, relieved that Renato has not discovered his passion for his wife, averse to shedding blood and confident in the love of his people, is unconcerned. Renato warns him against overconfidence and urges him to preserve his life for the sake of his people.

The chief justice brings an order of banishment against the fortune-teller Ulrica for the governor to sign. Oscar defends her and Riccardo decides to see for himself, telling Oscar to get him a fisherman’s costume as a disguise and summoning the court to meet him at Ulrica’s at three.

The conspirators hope to get a chance to kill him and the rest of the court, led by Riccardo, look forward to an entertaining afternoon.

Scene 2. The fortune-teller’s den

People gather to have their fortunes told, while Ulrica invokes the devil to aid her power of prophecy.

The disguised count mingles with the crowd in time to hear a sailor, Silvano, ask what will be his reward for years of faithful service to the count. The fortune-teller promises him money and promotion, and the governor, to prove her right, slips a note to this effect into Silvano’s pocket. When he finds it all are impressed with the accuracy of the prophecy.

Amelia comes to ask Ulrica for a prescription which will free her from the guilty love she feels for the governor and Riccardo, overhearing Ulrica instruct her to pick at midnight a herb growing beneath the gallows, resolves to be there as well.

The rest of the court arrives, not recognising the governor, although he reveals his identity to Oscar and orders him to keep the secret. Still in disguise, the governor asks the fortune-teller to say whether he will be lucky in love and at sea. When she looks at his hand, she recognises that he is a great man; then frightened by what she sees, refuses to continue. He insists and she tells him that he will die soon and at the hand of a friend.

Riccardo is derisive, Oscar and the bystanders filled with dread and the conspirators nervous. She repeats the warning and then identifies the murderer as the next man to shake him by the hand. Riccardo offers his hand in vain to the courtiers and conspirators, but when the unsuspecting Renato arrives, he takes the hand, thus proving to the governor’s satisfaction the falseness of the prophecy as Renato is his best friend.

Ulrica now recognises him with fear and he reminds her that she had been unable to penetrate his disguise or divine that he had been on the point of banishing her. He soothes her fears and she reiterates her warning, adding, to the alarm of the conspirators, that more than one traitor is lurking.

Silvano leads the bystanders in a hymn of praise to the governor.

Act II

The gallows outside the city at midnight

Amelia, almost overcome with terror, comes to pick the herb. Riccardo comes and declares his love, but she reminds him that she is the wife of a man who would give his life for him. Riccardo admits that he is consumed with remorse, but the power of his love is stronger and Amelia finally confesses that she loves him.

Their ecstasy is cut short by the arrival of Renato, warning that there are conspirators close by. He manages to persuade the governor to leave by a safe path and promises to escort the now-veiled Amelia to the city wihtout trying to uncover her identity.

The conspirators surround Renato and Amelia and, realising that their prey has eluded them, insist on knowing the identity of the lady. Renato is prepared to fight to prevent this but Amelia, trying to intervene, drops her veil.

The conspirators are diverted at the strange time and place Renato has chosen for an assignation with his own wife; and he, furious at having been betrayed by his wife and his friend, asks their leaders, Tom and Samuel, to come to his house the next day.


Scene 1. Renato’s study

Renato is adamant that Amelia must die, despite her assurances that her love for the governor is innocent. She begs to see her son for the last time, and he sends her out, turning bitterly to the portrait of the governor on the wall and blaming him for having seduced Amelia.

Tom and Samuel arrive, and Renato assures them that he does not wish to denounce them, but rather to join them, and even to be allowed to be the one to kill the governor. When they insist on their prior claims, he suggests they draw lots.

Amelia comes in to announce the arrival of Oscar with an invitation from the governor and Renato makes her draw the chosen name. It is his and his fierce joy makes her suspect the worst.

Oscar delivers the invitation to a masked ball. Amelia wishes to decline, but Renato, eager for revenge, accepts for them both. The conspirators agree on a costume and a password (Death) while Amelia tries to think of a way of warning the governor.

Scene 2. The governor’s study

Although in despair at the thought of parting from Amelia, Riccardo forces himself to sign a document sending Renato and Amelia back to England, without even seeing Amelia once more to say farewell.

Oscar brings a letter from a veiled lady warning Riccardo not to attend the ball, as his life is in danger. Refusing to run the risk of being thought a coward and resolving to see Amelia once more, he decides to attend the ball.

Scene 3. A vast and richly decorated ballroom

The ball is in progress and the conspirators search in vain for Riccardo until Oscar, persuaded by Renato that his business is urgent, describes the governor’s costume. Amelia, disguised, tries to warn Riccardo, but he recognises her and tells her that he has resolved to send her away with her husband. They bid each other farewell as Renato stabs the governor.

Riccardo restrains the crowd from taking vengeance and tells the now remorseful Renato that his wife is innocent and that he had planned to send them away. He dies, forgiving his enemies.

[Synopsis Source: Opera~Opera]

Click here for the complete libretto.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):