Masked Ball at DKT Old Stage – synopsis
Composer and librettist
Music: Giuseppe Verdi|Lyrics: Antonio Somma, after Scribe.
First performance at Teatro Apollo i Rom den 17 februari 1859. Seen the performance: 29.11.2001 Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen
The King of Sweden, Gustavo III, is popular and just – but even the most revered sovereign has his enemies… Gustavo is no exception. He also carries a deep secret his love for Amelia, the wife of his best friend, Ankarstrom.
The King is asked to sign an order for the arrest of Ulrica Arfvidsson; a suspected sorceress. But Gustavo refuses to sign without grounds; he wishes to investigate the range occurrences in the sorceress’ den himself. He visits her in disguise, accompanied by his courtiers.
From his hiding place he hears his beloved Amelia ask Ulrica to cure the lurking passion she feels for the King. She loves him too! Ulrica advises her to eat a herb that only grows in one particular place outside the city.
Amelia departs and Gustavo and his men appear – amongst them the page Oscar and Ankarstrom. They are all disguised, and Ulrica is unaware of being in the King´s presence. Ulrica foresees Gustavo’s near death – and that his murderer will be the next person to shake his hand! The only person to dare shake Gustavo’s hand is Ankarstrom, his best friend – who hasn’t heard the prediction.
In the desolate place on the outskirts of town, Amelia is searching for the herb to cure her forbidden love. Gustavo has followed her, and they declare their love for each other. Ankarstrom turns up wanting to save the King from an ambush by conspiring enemies. Amelia quickly hides her face behind a veil, and Gustavo asks his friend to escort the masked woman back to town.
The King escapes; upon their arrival the conspirators encounter Ankarstrom instead.They demand to see the identity of the mystery woman and Amelia must unveill herself to save her husband’s life. Realizing his “friend’s” betrayal, Ankarstrom becomes furious – and decides to join the King’s adversaries. Furthermore Amelia must die for her love for the King.
The following morning the conspirators meet up with Ankarstrom, and plan a coup against the King. They force Amelia to draw the name of Gustavo’s assassin – and Ankarstrom is thrilled when the draw falls upon him. Oscar delivers an invitation to an masked ball at the royal palace – presenting them with the perfect opportunity to kill Gustavo!
Gustavo battles with his hopeless love for Amelia, and chooses to send her abroad with Ankarstrom – maybe he will forget her in time. That evening, at the masked ball,Ankarstrom as prophesied murders the King. The King swears on his deathbed that Amelia is innocent – Ankarstrom bitterly regrets his actions.
Translation: Nina Bassett
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