This morning’s entertainment is The Met’s “Live in HD” broadcast of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” [The Masked Ball].
Harper’s Other Dad tells me I have seen this opera before but I don’t recall it. If I think of this opera at all it is because there is a poster of it hanging over my desk.
First performed in 1859, ‘Un Ballo..’ is based on the an historical event; the assassination of King Gustavus III of Sweden during a masked ball in 1792. The censors in revolutionary, mid-19th century Italy didn’t think depicting the assassination of a king was good popular entertainment so they allowed it to be performed only if it was re-set to 17th Massachusets. The assassinated figure became a British colonial governor rather than a European monarch. Part of the story involves a fortune teller. Apparently the Italian censors opted to overlook the relatively limited life expectancy of a fortune teller in 17th century Salem. At any rate, for many years productions were set in Massachusetts. In recent years it has been common for the opera to be set in its original Swedish context. This is a new production at the Met and is set in Sweden although the costumes would appear to place it in a more contemporary time.
I’m looking forward to seeing it though, I’ll admit to being slightly torn. At the same theater, at the same time, I could also attend the marathon of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Decisions, decisions.