The 14 October 2020 episode of OperaWednesday featured highlights from Un ballo in maschera by Verdi. In the live stream starting at 8 p.m., according to the original intentions of the composer, the Sándor Hevesi Stage of the Eiffel Art Studios became the court of Swedish king, Gustavo III.
The subject of this work sparked Verdi's fiercest battle with the censor of Naples and, later on, of Rome. The original libretto treated an actual historical event: the 1792 regicide of a Swedish king. However, this proved too delicate a matter given the political situation of the day, and so in order to curry favour with the censor, the king was converted into an earl and the plot transplanted from Europe to the English North American colonies. After a few more minor alterations, the Roman censor allowed the staging of the work, which when the layer of political assassination is peeled away the plot, reveals a love story. Apart from the political discontent, the real stakes are over a marriage in need of saving. Lurking in the story's background are visceral emotions of unrequited love and blind jealousy that move the plot along.
The highlights of the opera featuring costumes by Giuseppe Palella were staged by Katalin Kovács and Judit Niklai. Amelia and Gustavo were played by Eszter Sümegi and Boldizsár László, who had already performed excerpts from Verdi's masterpiece in an episode of the Masquerade programme series. Further roles were performed by Alexandru Agache (Renato), Bernadett Fodor (Ulrica) and Zita Szemere (Oscar). The performance was narrated by Dániel Mona, featured on the piano was Katalin Doman.
Photo by Edina Ligeti