Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera
Composed for the 1857–58 Carnival Season at the Teatro San Carlo
in Naples, Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera tells of the assassination
of Sweden’s King Gustav III. It was rejected by the Neapolitan
censors, and so were its revisions. The opera’s first performance
eventually took place on 17 February 1859 at the Teatro Apollo
in Rome, but only after revisions demanded by the pontifical
censors had been made. The setting was transferred from
Sweden to colonial North America; and Riccardo, the governor
of Boston, was to be the murder victim. Despite these changes,
Un ballo in maschera was very well received by the audience,
and it remains one of Verdi’s most popular stage works.
Like most modern performances, this recording is based on the
Swedish version of the opera. Its first performance at the Vienna
Opera House on the Ring was given in 1870 (exactly one year
after the building’s opening) and has since enjoyed well over
500 performances in this house. The star-studded cast includes
Pjotr Beczala (Gustav III), Dmitry Hvorostovky (Renato), Krassimira
Stoyanova (Emilia), Nadja Krasteva, Hila Fahima, Alexandru
Moisiuc, Sorin Coliban, Igor Onishchenko and Thomas Ebenstein.
The conductor is Jesús López Cobos. Live recording April 2016.