Following on from yesterday’s post … The miserable Friedrich is going to punish anyone who participates in the carnival, all part of his plan to ban fun. And a bit of word association soon gets us from carnivals to masks to masked balls, which is the subject of today’s post.
Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera has a bundle of essential operatic ingredients – conspiracy, fortune-telling, herbs with magical powers, dressing up, crossing and double-crossing. It’s a bit like Harry Potter, but sans happy ending, in fact, it has a rather tragic ending.
There’s something slightly disturbing about carnival masks, but they do make wonderfully sinister disguises for murderers.
For the playlist, I’ve chosen Di’ tu se fedele, where Riccardo hears his fate from the fortune-teller, and *spoiler alert* it ain’t looking good.
There are some fabulous recordings and it’s hard to know which one to add to the playlist, so I’m giving you choices:
This one is a 1937 recording by Jussi Bjorling. It’s actually sung in Swedish, but I think it works rather well. And it’s very relevant given that the opera was based on the assassination of Gustav III, who was shot whilst attending a masked ball.
Another I love is this recording by the great Giuseppe di Stefano, who was a role model for both Pavarotti and Carreras, the former also having made a bit of a name for himself as Riccardo, as seen here, for example.