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Un Ballo in Maschera, Verdi,
This review is from: Un Ballo In Maschera: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD]  (DVD)
Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, is based on the true story of the assassination of the King Gustav III of Sweden. In the opera, Gustav (Luciano Pavarotti) is in love with Amelia (Aprile Millo), who is married too his best friend and most trusted servant Renato (Leo Nucci). Gustav receives news that the government wishes to exile Ulrica (Florence Quivar), the famous fortune teller who speaks to Satan. A skeptical Gustav decides to see her disguised as a fisherman.
Ulrica tells him that he will soon be murdered by a close friend and when asked who this was she replied that it would be the first person to shake his hand. As Renato walks in, Gustav greets him and shakes his hand, proclaiming that Renato would never harm him and that the prophesy would not come true. Gustav thinks all will be well, but eventually the opera ends in tragedy.
Luciano Pavarotti is vocally excellent as the doomed king, his voice wonderful as always. Although his acting is a bit stiff, this does not spoil his performance, his amazing voice sounded phenomenal, hitting each note perfectly with great skill.
Gustav's page Oscar, was played wonderfully by Coloratura Soprano, Harolyn Blackwell. Her light voice was stunning, expertly skillful and accompanied by good acting, playfully mischievous. Leo Nucci was also brilliant, his deep baritone voice superb, playing the vengeful Renato terrifically, both in the acting and the singing, giving a great sinister performance.
Mezzo Soprano, Florence Quivar is equally marvelous as the devil worshiping psychic. Her incredible voice was warm rich and powerful, with great stage presence. She was very comfortable at the deeper end of her voice creating a brilliant effect. Her performance of the aria "Re dell'abisso, affrettati" was mesmerizing.
However, the best performance was given by Aprile Millo, whose voice radiated exceptional beauty. The exquisiteness of her voice was astounding, her rendition of the sublime aria "Morrò, ma prima in grazia" was very beautiful, the high notes incredibly delicate, her version emotional and passionate. Millo is excellent for Verdi, being able to sing very dramatic parts and then swiftly move into the more subtle arias.
Conducted by James Levine with the fantastic MET orchestra and chorus, which excellently brings Verdi's thunderous music too life. The production is faultless, with its outstanding singers and grand traditional set designs, this DVD comes highly recommend.