Opera Review: Verdi’s ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ Presented by Maryland Lyric Opera at Strathmore Music Center
Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (“A Masked Ball”) is Maryland Lyric Opera’s second production in a season devoted entirely to Verdi and featuring some of the composer’s most beloved works. In true Verdi fashion, “Un Ballo” features high drama, fantastical characters, a dangerous love triangle, and, of course, a stunning twist in the opera’s final moments.
…the Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra, under the direction of Andrea Licata, takes center stage, showcasing both the music and the vocal artistry… head to beautiful Strathmore and take your place at the ball!
Set in Boston during the British colonial era, Riccardo, the Governor of Boston (tenor Arturo Chacon-Cruz), is madly in love with Amelia (soprano Indira Mahajan), who is the wife of his most devoted friend and confidant, Renato (baritone Alexei Bogdanov). Distracted by his passion for Amelia, Riccardo ignores warnings that his enemies are plotting against him, even when those warnings come from the fortune teller, Ulrica (Mezzo-Soprano Daryl Freedman), whose magical powers predict that Riccardo will soon face a premature end. When Riccardo’s page, Oscar (mezzo-soprano Aitana Sanz), appears with invitations to a masquerade ball, the co-conspirators, Samuel (baritone Michael Pitocchi) and Tom (bass-baritone Adam Cioffari), see the perfect opportunity to execute their plans. In a shocking turn, however, they are no longer plotting alone.
The cast includes two outstanding mezzo-sopranos. Freedman sang an electrifying “Re dell’abisso, affrettati” (“King of the abyss, hurry”), and Sanz delivered a light and charming “Saper vorreste” (“You want to know”). Mahajan sings an irresistible “Morrò, ma prima in grazia” (“I will die, but first a kindness”), and Chacon-Cruz, an unforgettable “Ma se m’è forza perderti (“But if I am obliged to to lose “). Maryland Lyric Opera Chorus, led by conductor Husan Park, maintains a balanced and beautiful blend throughout Verdi’s demanding choral work, most notably in his rendition of “Posa in pace” (“Rest in Peace”).
Typically, the orchestra is out of sight, but in this concert version, the Maryland Lyric Opera Orchestra, under the direction of Andrea Licata, takes center stage, putting both the music and the art vocal at the center of attention, and making possible a certain operatic “unplugged” experience. The stage is not entirely out of place. integrated with English subtitles.
Live performances may seem out of reach for many, but Maryland Lyric Opera’s commitment to making opera an accessible art form extends to its ticket prices, including student seats starting at $10. $ and special offer tickets starting at $29.50. So grab a mask, head to beautiful Strathmore and take your place at the ball!
Duration: Approximately 2h45 with a 20 minute intermission.
Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” runs November 11-13, 2022 at Strathmore Music Center, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information about the Maryland Lyric Opera or to purchase tickets, click here. The opera is sung in Italian with projected English subtitles.