[Met Performance] CID:263350
Un Ballo in Maschera {171} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/19/1981.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 19, 1981


UN BALLO IN MASCHERA {171}
Giuseppe Verdi--Antonio Somma

Amelia..................Teresa Zylis-Gara
Riccardo................Carlo Bergonzi
Renato..................Louis Quilico
Ulrica..................Bianca Berini
Oscar...................Judith Blegen
Samuel..................Julien Robbins
Tom.....................William Fleck
Silvano.................John Darrenkamp
Judge...................Charles Anthony
Servant.................Nico Castel

Conductor...............Michelangelo Veltri

Production..............Elijah Moshinsky
Stage Director..........Paul Mills
Set designer............Peter Wexler
Costume designer........Peter J. Hall
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler

Un Ballo in Maschera received twelve performances this season

[Moshinsky, the original director in 1980, requested that his name be removed from the production because of numerous changes made in his staging and in the decor.]

Getting together at the 'Ballo'

Review of Bill Zakariasen in the Daily News

The production of Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" that the Metropolitan Opera unveiled last year promptly became legend in the history of preposterously bad staging - many hoped this production would retreat into legend as well. But never underestimate the Met's power to learn from critics and audiences. The present "Ballo" still sports the name of Peter Wexler as set designer, but the name of the original stage director, Elijah Moshinsky, is conspicuously absent, being replaced by Paul Mills.

Don't expect miracles this season - the masked ball scene itself still is ludicrous with everyone, save our harried heroine Amelia, flaunting faces instead of masks, but there are some decided improvements, notably a second act with the requisite gallows on the stage instead of the former inexplicable bridge at the back of it. All the other scenes remain basically as if they took place in Alice Tully Hall, but at least in most cases revisions in staging and props have made this "Ballo" at least watchable.

Tenor Carlo Bergonzi last sang in this opera when his character was called Gustav III, not Riccardo as it in this present version. He's now celebrating the 25th anniversary of his Met debut, and barring two rusty high notes in his last-act aria, he-sang with a refulgence and confidence of tone that recalled his halcyon days. And despite his sometimes amusingly regional Italian ("Tuffti," "Ashcolta," etc.), he remains as stylish a tenor as is around. If Carlo can continue for a few more years like this, Luciano, Placido and Josť better watch out.

The new Amelia was soprano Teresa Zylls-Gara. Her voice was in prime estate, easily encompassing the broad range of this often troublesome part, and her volume was more than sufficient. She was, however, noticeably passive in this go-getter role, but later performances should bring out the temperament we know is there. In repeaters, baritone Louis Quilico was once again a supremely confident (if unduly arm-waving) Renato, mezzo Bianca Berini a solidly menacing UIrica, and Judith Blegen a pert, well-vocalized Oscar - though these days her generously-endowed gluteus maximus wouldn't fool anyone to think she was supposed to be a page boy.

There was spirited, well-disciplined conducting from Michaelangelo Veltri though there was an interesting switch in the basso conspirators Sam and Tom. Last year, according to the American Revolutionary period now used in this production, Julien Robbins played Tom (Paine), but this season he plays Sam (Adams), while William Fleck takes over Tom. The thing is, Robbins still keeps his Tom costume and makeup, and Fleck wears Sam's. Well, considering the original violence done to a Verdi's masterwork last year, and considering the two singers' expert vocalism, the harm done here is miniscule.



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