I have loved opera for many years now. Un Ballo in Maschera is not my favourite Verdi due to the sometimes implausible story, however the music is simply sublime especially Renato's Eri Tu. I do prefer the 1975, 1980 and 2001 productions of this opera, however this is one of the better Ballos I've seen.
As with many other Ballos, this 1981 production is visually opulent with a spectacular ballroom setting and sumptuous costuming. The camera work is excellent as is the picture quality mostly. The sound is better than other opera productions I've seen recently, being clear in most scenes but occasionally with need of more volume.
The orchestra convey the atmosphere and moods of each aria wonderfully, and the conducting is suitably stylish and commanding. I can't complain with the performances either. Ulrica is chilling and Oscar is angelic and lyrical. Katia Ricciarelli is a vocally beautiful, musical and dramatically riveting Amelia(my favourite in the role actually, even more so than Milanov, Price, Caballe and Tebaldi) and a young Leo Nucci is fine as Renato(as were Cappuccilli, Merrill, Bastianini, Warren, Quillico, MacNeil, Gobbi and Milnes before him), I loved his good technique, robust voice(though I occasionally find in general he pushes a tad) and compelling acting.
Jose Carreras is truly amazing as Riccardo and my favourite performance of this production. Of the tenors I've heard I love Bjorling for warmth of tone, Peerce for phrasing, DiStefano for musicality, Pavarotti for the effortless high notes and Domingo for acting. What makes me love Carreras is his beautiful voice(of the three tenors I find his voice is the most beautiful), and his acting(he is an excellent Don Carlo, Rodolfo and Edgardo and a good Don Jose) is growing on me all the time, and he is very handsome and commanding here.
Overall, an excellent Ballo. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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