100 bästa operorna – 45 Don Carlos av Verdi

22 september 2010

44 – Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi

Don Carlos is a five-act Grand Opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a French language libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien (”Don Carlos, Infante of Spain”) by Friedrich Schiller.

[This synopsis is based on the original five-act version composed for Paris and completed in 1866. Important changes for subsequent versions are noted in indented brackets]

Act 1

[This Act was omitted in the 1883 revision]

The Forest of Fontainebleau, France in winter

A prelude and chorus of woodcutters and their wives is heard. They complain of their hard life, made worse by war with Spain. Elisabeth, daughter of the King of France, arrives with her attendants. She reassures the people that her impending marriage to Don Carlos, son of the King of Spain, will bring the war to an end, and departs

[This was cut before the Paris première and replaced by a short scene in which Elisabeth crosses the stage and hands out money to the woodcutters]

Carlos, coming out from hiding, has seen Elisabeth and fallen in love with her. When she reappears, he initially pretends to be a member of the Count of Lerma’s delegation, but then reveals his identity and his feelings, which she reciprocates. A cannon-shot signifies that peace has been declared between Spain and France, and Thibault informs Elisabeth that her hand is to be claimed not by Carlos but by his father, Philip II. Lerma and his followers confirm this, and Elisabeth feels bound to accept, in order to consolidate the peace. She departs for Spain, leaving Carlos devastated.

Act 2

[This Act is Act 1 in the 1883 revision]

Scene 1: The monastery of Saint-Just (San Jerónimo de Yuste) in Spain

Monks pray for the soul of the Emperor Charles V. His grandson Don Carlos enters, anguished that the woman he loves is now married to his father.

[In the 1883 revision, he sings an aria, salvaged from the omitted first Act]

A monk resembling the former emperor offers him eventual consolation of peace through God. Carlos’s friend Rodrigue, Marquis of Posa, has just come from the oppressed land of Flanders.

[This was cut during the pre-première rehearsals]

He asks for the Infante’s aid on behalf of the suffering people there. Carlos reveals that he loves his stepmother. Posa encourages him to leave Spain and go to Flanders. The two men swear eternal friendship. King Philip and his new wife, with their attendants, enter to do homage at Charles V’s tomb, while Don Carlos laments his lost love.

Scene 2: A garden near Saint-Just

Princess Eboli sings the Veil Song about a Moorish King and an alluring veiled beauty that turned out to be his neglected wife. Elisabeth enters. Posa delivers a letter from France (and secretly a note from Don Carlos). At his urging, Elisabeth agrees to see the Infante alone. Eboli notices Don Carlos’ agitation and infers that she, Eboli, is the one Don Carlos loves.

When they are alone, Don Carlos tells Elisabeth that he is miserable, and asks her to request Philip to send him to Flanders. She promptly agrees, provoking Carlos to renew his declarations of love, which she piously rejects. Don Carlos exits in a frenzy, shouting that he must be under a curse. The King enters and becomes angry because the Queen is alone and unattended. He orders her lady-in-waiting, the Countess of Aremberg, to return to France, prompting Elizabeth to sing a sorrowful goodbye-aria. The King approaches Posa, whose character and activism have impressed him favorably. Posa begs the King to stop oppressing the people of Flanders. The King calls Posa’s idealistic request unrealistic, and warns him that the Grand Inquisitor is watching him.

[This duologue was revised three times by Verdi]

Act 3

[This Act is Act 2 in the 1883 revision]

Scene 1: Evening in the Queen’s garden in Madrid

Elisabeth is tired, and wishes to concentrate on the following days’s coronation of the King. To avoid the divertissement planned for the evening, she exchanges masks with Eboli, assuming that thereby her absence will not be noticed, and leaves

[This scene was omitted from the 1883 revision]

[The ballet, (choreographed by Lucien Petipa and entitled ”La Peregrina”) took place at this point in the première]

Don Carlos enters. He has received a note suggesting a tryst in the gardens, which he thinks is from Elisabeth, but which is really from Eboli, to whom he mistakenly declares his love. The disguised Eboli realizes that he thinks that she is the Queen, and Carlos is horrified that she now knows his secret. When Posa enters, she threatens to tell the King that Elisabeth and Carlos are lovers. Carlos prevents Posa from stabbing her, and she exits in a vengeful rage. Posa asks Carlos to entrust to him any sensitive political documents that he may have, and, when Carlos agrees, they reaffirm their friendship.

Scene 2: In front of the Cathedral of Valladolid

Preparations are being made an ”Auto-da-fé”, the public parade and burning of condemned heretics. While the people celebrate, monks drag the condemned to the woodpile. The royal procession follows, and the King addresses the populace, but Don Carlos brings forward six Flemish deputies, who plead with the King for their country’s freedom. The people and the court are sympathetic, but the King, supported by the monks, orders the deputies’ arrest. Carlos draws his sword against the King. The King calls for help but the guards will not attack Don Carlos. Posa steps in, and persuades Carlos to surrender his sword. The King then promotes Posa to Duke, the woodpile is fired, and, as the flames start to rise, a heavenly voice can be heard promising peace to the condemned souls.

Act 4

[This Act is Act 3 in the 1883 revision]

Scene 1: Dawn in King Philip’s study in Madrid

Alone, the King, in a reverie, laments that Elisabeth has never loved him, that his position means that he has to be eternally vigilant, and that he will only sleep properly when he is in his tomb in the Escorial. The blind, ninety-year-old Grand Inquisitor is announced. The King asks if the Church will object to his putting his own son to death, and the Inquisitor replies that the King will be in good company: God sacrificed His own son. In return, the Inquisitor demands that the King have Posa killed. The King refuses to kill his friend, whom he admires and likes, but the Inquisitor reminds the King that the Inquisition can take down any king; he has destroyed other kings before. The King admits that he is powerless to save his friend and begs the Grand Inquisitor to forget about the whole discussion. The Grand Inqusitor replies ”We’ll see,” and leaves. Elisabeth enters, alarmed at the apparent theft of her jewel casket, but the King produces it and points to the portrait of Don Carlos which it contains, and accuses her of adultery. She protests her innocence, and, when the King threatens her, she faints. He calls for help. Eboli and Posa appear, and a quartet develops. The King realises that he has wronged his wife. Posa resolves to save Carlos, though it may mean his own death. Eboli feels remorse for betraying Elisabeth; the latter, recovering, expresses her despair.

[This quartet was revised by Verdi in 1883]

The two women are left together. A duet was cut before the première. Eboli confesses not only that she stole the casket because she loved Carlos and he rejected her, but, worse, she has also been the mistress of the King. Elisabeth tells her that she must go into exile or enter a convent, and exits. Eboli, alone, curses the fatal pride that her beauty has bestowed on her, chooses the convent over exile, and resolves to try to save Carlos from the Inquisition.

Scene 2: A prison

Don Carlos has been imprisoned. Posa arrives to tell him that he will be saved but that he himself will have to die, incriminated by the politically sensitive documents which Carlos had entrusted to him. A shadowy figure shoots Posa in the chest. As he dies, Posa tells Carlos that Elisabeth will meet him at Saint-Just on the following day, and says that he is content to die if his friend can save Flanders and rule over a happier Spain. After his death, Philip enters, offering his son freedom. Carlos repulses him for having murdered Posa. The King sees that Posa has been killed, and cries out in his sorrow.

[A duet included at this point for Carlos and the King, cut before the première, was later re-used by Verdi for the Lacrimosa in his Requiem]

Bells ring, and Elisabeth, Eboli and the Grand Inquisitor arrive, while a crowd demands the release of Carlos and threatens the King. In the confusion, Eboli escapes with Carlos. The people are brave enough to threaten the King, but they are terrified by the Grand Inquisitor, and they instantly obey his angry command to quiet down and bow to the King.

[After the première, some productions ended this Act with the death of Posa; however, in 1883 Verdi provided a much shortened version of the insurrection, as he felt that otherwise it would not be clear how Eboli had fulfilled her promise to rescue Carlos]

Act 5

[This Act is Act 4 in the 1883 revision]

The moonlit monastery of Saint-Just

Elisabeth kneels before the tomb of Charles V. She is committed to help Don Carlos on his way to fulfil his destiny in Flanders, but she herself longs only for death. Carlos appears and they say a final farewell, promising to meet again in Heaven.

[This duet was twice revised by Verdi]

Philip and the Grand Inquisitor enter: the King declares that there will be a double sacrifice, and the Inquisitor confirms that the Inquisition will do its duty. A short summary trial follows.

[The trial was omitted in 1883]

Carlos, calling on God, draws his sword to defend himself against the Inquisitor’s guards, when suddenly, the Monk emerges from the tomb of Charles V. He grabs Carlos by the shoulder, and loudly proclaims that the turbulence of the world persists even in the Church; we cannot rest except in Heaven. Philip and the Inquisitor recognize the Monk’s voice as that of the King’s father, former-Emperor Charles V himself. Everyone screams in shock and terror, and the Monk/former-Emperor drags Carlos forcefully into the tomb and closes the outlet. The curtain falls.

Philip II, (Filippo) King of Spain – bass
Don Carlos (Don Carlo), Infante of Spain – tenor
Rodrigue (Rodrigo), Marquis of Posa – baritone
The Grand Inquisitor – bass
Elisabeth of Valois – soprano
Princess Eboli – mezzo-soprano
A monk (Charles V) – bass
Thibault (Tebaldo) page – soparno
A voice from heaven – soprano
The count of Lerma – tenor
Royal Herald – tenor
Countess of Aremberg – silent


As noted when reading the synopsis there are very many versions of this opera, in both French and Italian. I haven’t seen it, but it seems to have one of the strangest endings I’ve heard about, not exactly logical. The opera has been pretty popular the last few years, I’ve heard of quite a few productions of it, and for example it’s going to be digicast by the Met in December. Here’s a clip of the Grand Inquisitor, a bit unexpected, but not surprised.



Otello vi Uppsala Universitet

18 juni 2010

i förra veckan hade Otello premiär i Uppsala, och det verkar som om den har fått lysande recensioner. Jag fick ingen möjlighet att ta mig själv ner till Uppsala, men för er som kan så tror jag att det går någon föreställning nu i helgen också. Sångarna hyllas överlag, medan tydligen orkestern, som främst består av Akademiska Kapellet, verkar ha haft problem. Det går ju inte att komma ifrån att det inte är en helproffessionell uppsättning.

DNWilhelm Carlssons uppsättning är så fri från yttre attribut – en ovanlighet i dagens operaregi – att den på ett märkligt sätt lyckas samla all kraft kring detta kosmiska drama
SvD: Det är en njutning att närvara när en trio sångare, samma järngäng som i förra årets Uppsala-Tosca, sporrar varandra.
UNT: föreställningarna förtjänar därmed en lika stor och entusiastisk publik som den vid lördagens premiär
Aftonbladet:  vore det inte för de tre huvudrollsinnehavarna, hade denna uppsättning nog haltat betänkligt
Expressen: Michael Weinius och Emma Vetter är varje operahus våta dröm för de här rollerna

I en sommar som präglas av bröllopshysteri är kanske Otello lite av en motreaktion,  om vad som händer när mannen av folket gifter sig med någon från en högre samhällsklass.


Otello på Uppsala Universitet

30 april 2010

Uppsala Universitet fortsätter med den operasatsning som man startade med Tosca, och nu i sommar sätter man upp Verdis Otello. Föreställningar är det 12, 15, 18 och 20 juni. Huvudrollerna sjungs av Michael Weinius, Emma Vetter och Fredrik Zetterström.

Jag tycker det är roligt att universitetet gör det här, det finns ju gott om musikalisk kompetens i Uppsala, och att då kanalisera det i en opera tycker jag är utmärkt. Jag har tankar på att kunna skaffa mig en biljett och passa på att se den, även om Otello inte är en opera som ligger riktigt högt på min favoritlista. Å andra sidan ska sägas att Otello var faktiskt en av de första operorna jag såg live, en uppsättning på Folkoperan 1995. Jag kommer ihåg att jag blev så illa berörd av den att jag åkte hem och skrev en egen lösning på hela slutet, min första fanfiction kan man säga.

Musikaliskt är Otello väldigt stark, med rejält krävande insatser från alla tre huvudrollerna, mest kända är nog Otellos inledning, Jagos credo och Desdemonas Videvisa.

Mer information om uppsättningen finns här.


100 bästa operorna – 55 Ödets makt av Verdi

17 mars 2010

55 – La Forza del Destino by Giuseppe Verdi

La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny) is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro, o La fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas, with a scene adapted from Friedrich Schiller’s Wallensteins Lager. It was first performed in the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia, on 10 November 1862.


Place: Spain and Italy
Time: around 1750[6]

Act 1

The mansion of Leonora’s family, in Seville

Don Alvaro is a young nobleman from South America (presumably Peru) who is part Indian and who has settled in Seville, where, however, he is not very well thought of. He falls in love with Donna Leonora, the daughter of the Marquis of Calatrava, who, notwithstanding his love for his daughter, is determined that she shall marry only a man of the highest origin. Leonora, knowing her father’s aversion to and deeply in love with Alvaro, determines to give up her home and country in order to elope with him, aided by her confidante, Curra.(Me pellegrina ed orfana – ”Exiled and orphaned far from my childhood home”).

Her father unexpectedly enters and discovers Alvaro; he threatens him with death, and, in order to remove any suspicion as to Leonora’s purity, Alvaro offers to surrender himself to the Marquis. He flings down his pistol which goes off and mortally wounds the Marquis who dies cursing his daughter.

Act 2

Scene 1: An inn in the village of Hornachuelos

The Alcalde, several peasant muleteers, and Don Carlo of Vargas, the brother of Doña Leonora, are gathered in the kitchen of an inn. Don Carlo, disguised as a student of Salamanca, under the fictitious name of Pereda, is seeking revenge against Alvaro and Leonora (Son Pereda son ricco d’onore – ”I am Pereda, of honorable descent”). During the supper, Preziosilla, a young gypsy, tells the young men’s fortunes and exhorts them to enlist in the war (Al suon del tamburo – ”When side drums rattle”) for Italy’s freedom, which all agree to do. Having become separated from Alvaro, Leonora arrives in male attire, but slips away without being discovered by Carlo.

Scene 2: A monastery nearby

Leonora takes refuge in the monastery (Sono giunta! … Madre, pietosa Vergine – ”I’ve got here! Oh, thank God!”) where she tells the abbot, Padre Guardiano, her true name and that she intends to spend the remainder of her life in a hermitage. The abbot recounts the trials she will have to undergo. Leonora, Padre Guardiano, Fra Melitone, and the other monks join in prayer.

Act 3

Scene 1: A forest near Velletri, in Italy

Meanwhile Don Alvaro has joined the Spanish army under the name of Don Federico Herreros (La vita è inferno … O tu che in seno agli angeli – ”Life is a hell to those who are unhappy….Oh, my beloved, risen among the angels”). One night he saves the life of Don Carlo who is serving in the same army under the name of Don Felix Bornos. They become close friends and go into battle side by side.

Scene 2: The officers’ quarters

In one of these engagements Don Alvaro is, as he supposes, mortally wounded, and confides to Don Carlo’s care a valise containing a bundle of letters which he is to destroy as soon as Don Alvaro dies. (Solenne in quest’ora – ”Swear to me, in this solemn hour”). Don Carlo has sworn not to look at the contents of the letters; but he becomes suspicious of his friend. (Morir! Tremenda cosa! … Urna fatale del mio destino – ”To die! What an awesome thought…Get away, fatal lot sent to my Destiny!”). He opens the valise, finds his sister’s picture, and realizes Alvaro’s true identity. At that moment a surgeon brings word that Don Alvaro may recover. Don Carlo is overjoyed at the idea of avenging his father’s death.

Scene 3: A camp near the battleground

Alvaro, having recovered, is confronted by Carlo. They begin to duel but are pulled away from each other by the soldiers. As they restrain Carlo, the anguished Don Alvaro vows to enter a monastery.

The soldiers gather. Trabucco, the peddler, tries to sell them his wares; Fra Melitone chastises them for their godless ways; and Preziosilla leads them in a chorus in praise of the military life (Rataplan, rataplan, della gloria – ”Rum-tum-tum on the drum is the music that makes a soldier’s martial spirit rise”).

Act 4

Scene 1: The monastery

Don Alvaro has entered the monastery at Hornachuelos, near which is Leonora’s cave, under the name of Father Raphael. Don Carlo arrives and forces him to fight (Le minacci, i fieri accenti – ”May the winds carry off with them”).

Scene 2: A desolate spot near Leonora’s hermitage

Leonora prays that she may find peace in death (Pace, pace mio Dio! – ”Peace, O mighty Father, give me peace!”). Alvaro runs in, calling for help, having mortally wounded Carlo in their duel. The two lovers recognize each other. Leonora runs offstage to see her brother, who, when she bends over him, stabs her to the heart. Leonora returns with Padre Guardiano; he and Alvaro pray to heaven as she dies.

The Marquis of Calatrava – bass
Leonora, his daughter – soprano
Don Carlo di Varga, his son – baritone
Don Alvaro, Leonora’s suitor – tenor
Curra, Leonora’s maid – mezzo-soprano
Preziosillia, a gypsy – mezzo-soprano
Mayor – bass
Maestro Trabucco – tenor
Padre Guardano – bass
Fra Melitone – baritone
a surgeon – bass



I don’t know much about the opera itself, but the ouverture is one of these famous pieces that usually crop up in concerts and ”best of opera” CDs. I think it’s wonderful. There is also the story about the curse of the opera, which apparently started when the baritone singing Don Carlo fell down dead, just when he was about to start on a piece that begins with ”Morir, tremendo cosa” (to die, a momentous thing). Pavarotti never sang the tenor role, some say that he was afraid of the curse. There are still other tenors that have sung it though. Here is Giuseppe di Stefano’s version of Oh, tu che in seno the main tenor aria. Leonora has some serious singing to do as well, here is the great aria Pace, pace mio dio, sung by Nina Stemme.


Simon Boccanegra, Metropolitan 2010

7 februari 2010

Igår var jag alltså och såg en liveutsändning från Metropolitan för första gången. Jag var faktiskt förvånad över att Dalateaterns stora scen var i stort sett utsåld. Medelåldern var dock rejält hög, jag sänkte den väl med 30 år eller något sånt. Att se opera på storbild fungerade verkligen bra, det var lite obalans i ljudet ibland, orkestern hade en tendens att överrösta sångarna när de skulle sjunga piano. Upplevelsen som sådan var dock väl värd pengarna, och jag kommer nog att försöka att gå fler gånger.

Nu till själva föreställningen.

Handlingen i Simon Boccanegra kan ni läsa om här, där jag gick igenom den i min nedräkning över de 100 bästa operorna. Det var den posten som faktiskt gjorde mig nyfiken på operan över huvud taget. Affischnamnet för föreställningen var att Placido Domingo skulle göra Simon Boccanegra, en barytonroll. Jag blev dock väldigt glatt överraskad när det visade sig att en av de andra huvudrollerna sjöngs av James Morris, som ju har hållit på i stort sett lika länge. I pausen skämtade de om att de sjungit tillsammans för första gången 1965, och att de brukar vara fiender, förutom i Valkyrian där de är far och son (Wotan och Siegmund), men det slutar ju ändå med att den ene dödar den andre. Dessa två sångare hade jag stora förväntningar på redan innan, och de uppfyllde dem med råge. Avslutningen på första akten fick det verkligen att gå kårar längs ryggen, den var så mäktig.

Överlag ska sägas att handlingen, precis som vanligt i en Verdi-opera, kräver att man bortser från en hel del ologiska saker, men det uppvägs ju genom musiken. Det jag dock verkligen gillade var att karaktärerna var så mänskliga, det fanns inga riktiga hjältar eller skurkar, de var bara på olika sidor i den politiska kampen.

Om Domingo och Morris uppfyllde förväntningarna så var Adrianne Pieczonka som Amelia en av kvällens verkliga höjdpunkter. Hennes röst och scennärvaro var otrolig, och jag är verkligen nyfiken på att se henne i fler roller. Marcello Giordani som Gabriele var en ”typisk” tenor, vacker röst men ingen skådespelare att tala om.

Uppsättningen i sig var tyvärr ganska tråkig; stel och traditionell. Det skulle verkligen vara spännande att se vad en modernare tolkning skulle kunna göra av den här politiska intrigen.

Betyget blir

4 av 5 överdådiga kostymer (skulle ha kunnat bli en femma om det varit en intressantare regi


Falstaff på tv

26 december 2009

Lite sent, men jag upptäckte det inte själv förrän tidigare än idag. Svt visar Falstaff från Kungliga Operan som månadens föreställning, det vill säga ikväll kl. 21.05.

Falstaff är Verdis sista opera, och den är också ovanlig i att det är en komedi. Verdi skrev bara totalt två komedier. Jag misstänker dessvärre att jag inte kommer att ha möjlighet at se den, familjemiddag och då måste man kompromissa om fjärrkontrollen.


100 bästa operorna – Maskeradbalen av Verdi

31 augusti 2009

70 – Un ballo in maschera by Giuseppe Verdi

Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball), is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. The opera’s first production was at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, 17 February 1859.

The opera is based on the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden, but is not historically accurate. During its composition, Verdi was asked by government censors to make many changes to the opera due to its politically sensitive subject matter. Among these changes is a transportation of the setting to Boston, Massachusetts.

Today the opera can be performed both set in Stockholm, Sweden or Boston, Massachusetts, and the names differ between versions, so for once I’ll give the role list first.

Riccardo, Earl of Warwick and governor of Boston(or Gustavo, King of Sweden) – tenor
Renato (or Count Anckarström), husband of Amelia andR iccardo’s secretary, best friend and confidant – baritone
Amelia, wife of Renato (Anckarström) in love with Riccardo (Gustavo) – soprano
Oscar, page of Riccardo/Gustavo – soprano
Ulrica Arvidsson, a fortune teller – contralto
a judge – tenor
Silvano (or Christano)- bass
Amelia’s servant – tenor
Samuel (or Count Ribbing) – bass
Tom (or Count Horn) – bass


Place, Sweden or Boston, Massachusetts.
Time, Sweden: 1792, or Boston: the end of the 17th century.[4]

[edit] Act 1

Scene 1: A public audience at Riccardo/Gustavo’s palace, attended by his supporters, but also by his enemies who hope for his downfall

Riccardo/Gustavo reviews the list of guests who will attend an upcoming masked ball. He is elated to see on the list the name of the woman he loves – Amelia, the wife of his friend and advisor, Renato/Anckarström.  When Renato/Anckarström arrives, he tries to warn Riccardo/Gustavo about the growing conspiracy against him , but Riccardo/Gustavo refuses to listen to his words.

Next, Riccardo/Gustavo is presented with a complaint against a fortune-teller named Ulrica, accused of witchcraft. A magistrate calls for her banishment, but Oscar the page defends her. Riccardo/Gustavo resolves to investigate for himself and tells the members of the court to disguise themselves and to meet him at Ulrica’s lodging later that day.

Scene 2: At Ulrica’s dwelling

Ulrica summons her magical powers. Disguised as a fisherman, Riccardo/Gustavo arrives before the others. He makes the fortune of a sailor named Silvano/Christano come true by spiriting a document of promotion into his pouch, convincing the crowd of the truth of Ulrica’s powers. When he realizes that Amelia is coming to see Ulrica, he hides and watches. Alone with Ulrica, Amelia confesses that she is tormented by her love for Riccardo/Gustavo, and asks for a means to bring peace to her heart. Ulrica tells her to gather a certain herb with magical powers; Riccardo/Gustavo resolves to be there when she does so. Amelia leaves.

Now Riccardo/Gustavo presents himself again, along with all of the courtiers, and asks to have his fortune told. Ulrica reveals that he will be killed by the next man who shakes his hand. He laughingly dismisses her prophecy and offers his hand to the courtiers, who refuse to take it. Renato/Anckarström arrives and shakes Riccardo/Gustavo’s hand in greeting. Riccardo/Gustavo’s true identity is now revealed and he is acclaimed by the people.

Act 2

On the outskirts of the town, at the gallows-place. Midnight

Amelia, conquering her fears, has come here alone to pick the herb of which Ulrica told her. She is surprised by Riccardo/Gustavo, who has come to meet her. Now the two finally declare their love for each other.

Unexpectedly, Renato/Anckarström arrives, and Amelia covers her face with her veil before he can recognize her. Renato/Anckarström explains to Riccardo/Gustavo that the conspirators are pursuing him, and his life is in danger. Riccardo/Gustavo leaves, making Renato/Anckarström promise to escort the veiled woman safely back to town, not asking her identity. When the conspirators arrive, they confront Renato; in the struggle, Amelia’s veil drops. Renato/Anckarström assumes that Amelia and Riccardo/Gustavo have been involved in an adulterous love affair. He asks the two leaders of the conspiracy, Samuel/Ribbing and Tom/Horn, to meet him the next day.

Act 3

Scene 1: Renato’s house

Renato/Anckarström has resolved to kill Amelia for the dishonor she has brought on him. She protests her innocence and begs to see her son one last time.  Renato/Anckarström relents, and declares that it is Riccardo/Gustavo, not Amelia, who deserves to die

Samuel/Ribbing and Tom/Horn arrive, and Renato/Anckarström asks to join their plot, pledging the life of his son as proof of his sincerity. They agree to draw lots to decide who will kill Riccardo/Gustavo. Amelia is forced to draw the winning name – Renato/Anckarström.

Oscar, the page, arrives with invitations to the masked ball; Samuel/Ribbing, Tom/Horn and Renato/Anckarström agree that this is where the assassination will take place.

Scene 2: The ball

Riccardo/Gustavo, torn between love and duty, has resolved to renounce his love for Amelia and send her and Renato/Anckarström back to England.

At the ball, Renato/Anckarström tries to learn from Oscar what costume Riccardo/Gustavo is wearing. Oscar at first refuses to tell, but finally answers: a black cloak and a red ribbon. Riccardo/Gustavo manages to identify Amelia and tells her of the decision he has made. As they say goodbye, Renato/Anckarström stabs Riccardo/Gustavo. The wounded Riccardo/Gustavo discloses that though he loved Amelia, she never broke her marriage vows. He pardons all the conspirators, bidding farewell to his friends and his country as he dies.

This is an opera I really would like to see, but with the Swedish setting, after all I’m from Sweden and in fact I’m related to Anckarström, not close though. The opera doesn’t have much more than the names and the fact that Gustav III was killed at a masked ball in common with what really happened, Amelia is totally fictional. Still I think it would be fun to see. I must also say that the plot seems to be unusually straight forward for a Verdi opera.

Some pieces from the opera. Katia Ricciarelli as Amelia, in the aria where she begs for her life. Pavarotti as Riccardo/Gustavo, and Mariana Pentcheva as Ulrica, with a beautiful ending of the witch scene.