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Cat. No. CHAN 3116(2) Price: £18 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 3116 - Verdi: A Masked Ball
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Available From: 06 September 2004
King Gustavus’s best friend, Count Anckarstroem, informs him of a plot to assassinate him. A soothsayer tells the King that he will be assassinated by the first person to shake his hand. Laughing at her prediction, Gustavus is joined by Anckarstroem – who shakes him by the hand.

The King loves Amelia, Anckarstroem’s wife. Seeking a herb to expunge the guilty love she feels for Gustavus, she visits the Gallows. The King arrives and she at first resists but then falls into his arms. Anckarstroem comes to let him know that the plotters are nearby, and urges him to flee. Gustavus has him swear to escourt the lady to the city gates. As Anckarstroem escorts the veiled Amelia, they are waylaid by the conspirators. During the scuffle, Amelia’s identity is revealed. Anckarstroem’s jealousy makes him decide to join with the conspirators.

Anckarstroem and the conspirators draw lots to see who will kill the King. At a masked ball Gustavus tells Amelia of his decision to send her and her husband overseas. As the King bids farewell to Amelia, Anckarstroem kills him. Dying, the King proclaims Amelia’s innocence and begs that no one avenge his death.

Verdi’s opera in three acts suffered from many censorship troubles.Times were politically sensitive: 1859 was a crucial year in the struggle for Italian unification and there was an attempt on the life of Napoleon III not long before the work’s proposed first performance. The plot had originally centred on the assassination of Gustavus III of Sweden in 1792 but for the Rome premiere, the plot was transferred from Sweden to seventeenth-century Boston, New England. The opera was performed in this form until the mid-twentieth century when the original Swedish setting was reinstated with increasing regularity.
Reviews

'Dennis O'Neill is one of Britain's most Italianate singers, and he is ardent in the lead role, singing with a verbal clarity not always found elsewhere.'
BBC Music Magazine

'Ballo is Verdi's most romantic opera, and David Parry conducts the London Philharmonic with a good deal of ardour. The quality of sound is excellent' This, though, is one of the best sets of all the Opera in English series.'
International Record Review

 

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