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14. September 2013

Un ballo in mascheraA Masked Ball

Opera by Giuseppe Verdi


Sung in Italian with German surtitles
3:00 h | including 2 intervals
  • Synopsis

    Oscar inspects the ballroom of the »Arvedson Palace« Hotel.


    ACT I

    The party leadership is having breakfast.
    Riccardo, the governor, arrives.
    Oscar gives him the guest list for the upcoming masked ball. Riccardo is overjoyed to find Amelia – the wife of his best friend and political advisor, Renato – on the list. He has fallen in love with her.
    Renato enters. He misinterprets Riccardo’s discomposure as a reaction to rumors about a planned assassination attempt and urges him to take action against the conspirators, arguing that intervention is also in the interest of the country. Riccardo is unable to reveal his inner conflict to his friend.
    The Supreme Judge presents a document to be signed, an order banishing the black woman Ulrica, a well-known fortune-teller. Oscar jokingly comes to her defense. Riccardo decides to visit Ulrica himself, disguised as a fisherman and accompanied by his staff, in order to form his own impression. The conspirators Samuel and Tom and their followers sense an opportunity to strike.

    Surrounded by a group of women and children, Ulrica invokes the devil. Silvano, an invalid veteran who served in Riccardo’s fleet, asks her when he will finally be rewarded for his sacrifices. Ulrica foretells riches and an imminent promotion. While watching the scene, Riccardo slips Silvano money and a commission without him noticing it. When Silvano discovers that his wish has already been fulfilled, the crowd cheers.
    Amelia’s servant asks for a private audience for his mistress. Ulrica sends everyone away, while Riccardo hides. Amelia begs Ulrica to free her from her adulterous passion for the governor. The soothsayer tells her about a mysterious herb that will let her forget her passion – if she picks it herself at midnight beneath the gallows. Amelia decides to go that very night, and Riccardo is determined to follow her.
    Riccardo’s entourage – including the conspirators – enter in disguise. Riccardo has his fortune told, and Ulrica predicts that he will soon die at the hand of a friend. Managing to conceal his shock, Riccardo asks her for more information. She tells him that the first person to shake his hand will be his murderer. Renato, concerned for his friend, has followed Riccardo to Ulrica and now greets him with a handshake. Everyone takes it as a sign that the fortune-teller must be mistaken. Riccardo now reveals his true identity and is welcomed with enthusiasm. At Silvano’s suggestion, the crowd sings the national anthem in his honor. The conspirators are unable to take action.


    ACT II

    Amelia turns up at the gallows at midnight, looking for the magic herb. Riccardo, who has secretly followed her there, now surprises her, revealing his love and compelling her to confess her own love for him. Renato appears unexpectedly to warn the governor that Samuel and Tom, along with their followers, are nearby. He and the governor exchange coats so that Riccardo can escape unrecognized, and Renato promises to escort the veiled woman back to the city safely without trying to discover her identity.
    The conspirators arrive and close in on the man they believe to be the governor and his unknown mistress. Renato reveals his own identity and draws his gun to protect the incognito of the woman who has been entrusted to his care. Amelia throws herself between the two combatants, dropping her veil. Not realizing that Renato joined his wife just a few minutes earlier, the conspirators don’t quite understand what is happening or why the two seem so astounded. However, they take advantage of the couple’s dismay as a distraction from their own compromising situation. Renato invites Samuel and Tom to come to his house the next day.


    ACT III

    Amelia cannot convince Renato that she has not been unfaithful to him. He wants to kill her. She begs him to let her hold her son one more time before she dies, and Renato decides to kill not his wife, but his friend. Samuel and Tom arrive, and Renato asks to be allowed to join their circle of conspirators. He gives them his son as a hostage, pledging his son’s life as proof of his sincerity. They draw lots to decide who will be permitted to kill the governor. Amelia is forced to draw the name of the winner, who turns out to be Renato.
    Oscar brings them an invitation to the masked ball. Renato is concocting a plan to kill the governor at the ball. Amelia sees through his plan and tries desperately to figure out how to warn Riccardo without incriminating her husband.

    Riccardo, torn between friendship and love, finally decides that he can never see Amelia again and signs a decree sending Renato and Amelia to England. When Oscar arrives with a letter from an unknown lady (the masked Amelia) warning Riccardo of a plot to murder him at the ball, he takes no heed, believing that he will be accused of cowardice if he does not attend the ball. Filled with joyful anticipation about seeing Amelia one last time, he hurries off to the ball.
    The party is in full swing. Uncertain, Renato asks Oscar whether the governor is present; Oscar confirms it. Renato also gets Oscar to tell him what costume Riccardo is wearing. Amelia recognizes the man she loves and begs him to leave the ball, saying that he is in mortal danger. Riccardo cannot tear himself away from her: she will be leaving America tomorrow with Renato. As the two of them embrace one last time, Renato shoots the governor. The dying Riccardo tells Renato that Amelia has not broken her marriage vows and that a decree transferring him to England has already been signed. As his last official act, he pardons his murderer.