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UN BALLO IN MASCHERA

by Giuseppe Verdi
(1813-1901)

Libretto by Antonio Somma

Loosely based on the play Gustave III by Eugène Scribe

November 22, 23, 29, and 30, 2014, at 3 PM
OLPH Catholic Academy of Brooklyn

Conducted by Gregory Ortega
Staged by Linda Lehr

Performed in Italian with English supertitles

“The Regina attained levels of perfection rarely seen today.
This was an exceptional and brilliant afternoon of opera. Bravo to all!”
Nino Pantano, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

“Bravo to the entire cast, both onstage and behind the scenes.”
Cliff Kasden, Home Reporter

 


The Cast

Riccardo, Royal Governor
Michael Morrow (Nov. 22 & 30)
Benjamin Sloman (Nov. 23 & 29)

Amelia
Alexis Cregger (Nov. 22 & 30)
Michelle Pretto (Nov. 23 & 29)

Renato, her husband
Peter Hakjoon Kim (Nov. 22 & 30)
Andrew Cummings (Nov. 23 & 29)

Oscar, Riccardo’s page
Mizuho Takeshita (Nov. 22 & 30)
Amy Palomo (Nov. 23 & 29)

Ulrica, a fortune-teller
Lara Tillotson (Nov. 22 & 30)
Jessica Lynn French (Nov. 23 & 29)

Samuel, a conspirator
Antoine Hodge (Nov. 22 & 30)
Jacopo Buora (Nov. 23 & 29)

Tom, a conspirator
Jonathan Dauermann (Nov. 22 & 30)
Hector Mori (Nov. 23 & 29)

Silvano, a sailor
Nicholas Connolly (Nov. 22 & 30)
Gene Howard (Nov. 23 & 29)

Chief Magistrate
Daniel Kerr (Nov. 22 & 30)
Ray Calderon (Nov. 23 & 29)

Amelia’s servant
Thomas Geib

Covers
Amelia: Cheryl Warfield; Ulrica: Milica Nikcevic; Oscar: Adriana Lee


The Story

Riccardo, Earl of Warwick and Governor of MassachusettsTenor
Amelia, wife of RenatoSoprano
Renato, Riccardo’s secretaryBaritone
Oscar, a pageSoprano
Ulrica, a fortune-tellerContralto
Samuel}enemies of the GovernorBass
Tom}
Silvano, a sailorSoprano

A judge, a servant of Amelia, populace, guards, conspirators, ball guests.


Un Ballo in Maschera was originally set in 18th-Century Sweden and concerned the assassination of King Gustav III.
Due to political censorship, Verdi was forced to change the locale to colonial Boston.
Regina Opera’s production is set in colonial Boston.

Act I

The Governor’s mansion

Riccardo, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Massachusetts, is the unwitting target of a murder conspiracy led by the revolutionaries Samuel and Tom. Oscar, Riccardo’s page, gives him the guest list for a masked ball. Riccardo, seeing on the list the name of Amelia — the wife of his secretary, Renato — muses on his secret passion for her (“La rivedrò nell’estasi”). Renato then enters and warns Riccardo that there is a conspiracy against him, but Riccardo does not believe it.

A magistrate arrives with a decree banishing the fortune-teller Ulrica, who is accused of witchcraft. When Riccardo asks Oscar’s opinion, the youth describes her skill at astrology and urges him to absolve her (“Volta la terrea”). Deciding to see for himself, and overruling the objections of Renato, Riccardo light-heartedly invites everyone to join him in an incognito visit to the witch.

As Ulrica mutters incantations before a group of women (“Re dell’abisso”), Riccardo discreetly enters disguised as a fisherman. Ulrica begins her prophecies by telling the sailor Silvano that he will soon prosper. Riccardo surreptitiously slips money and a promotion into the satchel of the seaman, who discovers it and marvels at the fortune-teller’s powers. When Ulrica sends her visitors away, Riccardo remains behind and hides. He watches while Ulrica grants an audience to Amelia, who comes seeking release from her love for Riccardo. Ulrica tells her she must gather at night a magic herb that grows by the gallows. Amelia hurries away, and Riccardo resolves to follow her. But Oscar and the others arrive, and Riccardo, still in disguise, mockingly asks Ulrica to read his palm (“Di’ tu se fedele”). When she says he will die by the hand of a friend, Riccardo laughs (Quintet: “È scherzo od è follia”). Riccardo asks her to identify the assassin, to which she replies that the next hand he shakes is the one that will kill him. No one will shake “the fisherman’s” hand, but upon seeing Renato arrive, Riccardo hurries to clasp his hand and says that the prophesy is now disproven, because Renato is his most loyal friend. Riccardo is recognized, and is hailed by the crowd above the discontented mutterings of the conspirators.

Act II

The gallows.

Amelia arrives at the gallows and desperately prays that the herb she seeks will release her from her passion for Riccardo (“Ma dall’arido stelo divulsa”). As a distant bell tolls midnight, she is terrified by an apparition and prays to heaven for mercy. Riccardo arrives, and, unable to resist him, Amelia confesses her love (Duet: “Non sai tu che se l’anima mia”). She quickly veils her face when her husband Renato rushes in to warn Riccardo that assassins are approaching.

Riccardo, fearing that Renato may discover Amelia’s identity, leaves only after Renato promises to escort her back to the city without lifting her veil. Samuel, Tom, and their co-conspirators arrive and are dismayed to find Renato instead of their intended victim. Renato draws his sword when they make insolent remarks about his veiled companion; to save her husband’s life, Amelia raises her veil. While the conspirators laugh at this irony, Renato asks Samuel and Tom to come to his house the next morning. Amelia laments her disgrace.

Act III

Scene 1. Renato’s house.

Renato tells Amelia that he intends to kill her, but she asks to see her young son before she dies (“Morrò, ma prima in grazia”). Granting her wish, Renato turns to a portrait of Riccardo and exclaims that it is not on Amelia that he should seek vengeance, but on Riccardo (“Eri tu”). He is interrupted by Samuel and Tom; now united in purpose, they cannot agree who should have the privilege of assassinating Riccardo. Amelia returns just as the men prepare to draw lots. Forcing his wife to choose the fatal slip of paper from a vase, Renato rejoices when she draws his name. A moment later Oscar brings an invitation to the masked ball. While the men hail this chance to execute their plan, Amelia vows to warn Riccardo (Quintet: “Di che fulgor”).

Scene 2. Riccardo’s apartment.

Riccardo resolves to renounce his love, and to send Amelia and Renato to England (“Ma se m’è forza perderti”). Oscar delivers a letter from an unknown lady warning Riccardo of the murder plot. Not wanting his absence to be taken as a sign of cowardice, Riccardo leaves for the masquerade.

Scene 3. The masked ball.

The conspirators wander through the crowded ballroom trying to find Riccardo, who is masked for the ball. Renato takes Oscar aside and with some difficulty persuades the youth to reveal Riccardo’s identity (“Saper vorreste”). Recognizing Amelia, Riccardo declares his love again (Duet: “T’amo, sì, t’amo”). Despite her repeated warnings, he refuses to leave. Just as the lovers bid a final farewell, Renato, overhearing the last part of their conversation, stabs Riccardo. As Riccardo lies dying, he forgives Renato and the conspirators. Riccardo admits that he loved Amelia, but assures Renato that she is innocent, showing him the order for their repatriation to England. The crowd bewails the loss of their generous-hearted governor as Renato is consumed by remorse.

© 2006 Linda Cantoni