The Governor has not been carrying on a secret dalliance with best friend's wife, regardless of how matters appear. No matter, best friend Renato is convinced, and there's no talking him out of it. The truth will be unmasked at the Ball.




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Episode credited cast:
Metropolitan Opera Ballet ...
Stephanie Blythe ...
Madame Ulrica Arvidsson
David Crawford ...
Dmitri Hvorostovsky ...
Kathleen Kim ...
Masked Dancer
Fabio Luisi ...
Himself - Conducted by
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ...
Themselves - Orchestra
Keith Miller ...
Sondra Radvanovsky ...
Amelia Anckarström
Trevor Scheunemann ...
Mark Schowalter ...
Scott Scully ...


The Governor has not been carrying on a secret dalliance with best friend's wife, regardless of how matters appear. No matter, best friend Renato is convinced, and there's no talking him out of it. The truth will be unmasked at the Ball.

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Release Date:

8 December 2012 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

The production values and symbolism may not be for all tastes, but musically and dramatically I found this Ballo to be outstanding
11 December 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series has not been the most consistent of series, there are some real gems like Eugene Onegin and some stinkers like Tosca. Most though range from solid to very good. This Un Ballo in Maschera belongs neither in among the best or worst categories, but sits comfortably in the solid to very good one. Is it the best Ballo I've seen? No, the productions with Licitra/Guleghina, Pavarotti/Ricciarelli and Domingo/Ricciarelli I found to be stronger.

Un Ballo in Maschera is an opera I do like. I do appreciate it more now, after seeing it live, but while the story is somewhat implausible in places the music I cannot fault. The Met production(the first Ballo I saw live, as a simulcast) doesn't quite make me forget the implausibilities of the story, and while it is not perfect my two friends and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though I can understand why some may not be totally enamoured by it. Some of the symbolism and such, especially the men with black wings and skulls and Oscar with white wings, went over my head on viewing and now come across still as rather unsubtle and overly-obvious. That is true also of the whole Icarus metaphor, present in most scenes but never really expanded upon.

I was mixed myself on the minimalist and angular production values. On the most part they were interesting and I can see why David Alden(who I think should have focused more on the film noir aspect because that was where the production was at its best) incorporated them, the costumes are handsome and the big scene with Ulrica and Gustavo's rooms are very well done. In fact, Acts 1 and 2 were fine generally. It was Act 3 in this respect where things took a nosedive. Renato's study at the start was for my tastes too stark and compact, and in the whole conspiracy scene there was the vibe that the set needed to be bigger. The ballroom scenes I would have preferred to have been more opulent too, though the surreal final scene did have some interest value.

While not as big a problem, the sound unusually for HD, which was fantastic visually, is rather echoey. There is a fair bit of reverb too, which gives a few of Alvarez's high notes a somewhat unnatural sound at times. Musically and dramatically however the production is outstanding. The orchestral playing brings out the various contrasting emotions wonderfully seen in the score for Un Ballo in Maschera, playing with a vibrant sound always. The chorus sound great, they are very animated and they are beautifully tuned and balanced with the ladies almost vocally bell-like and the men sonorous. Fabio Luisi's conducting is super-efficient yet allows the more poetic elements of Amelia and Renato's Act 3 arias to come through very effectively.

As for the staging and choreography, apart from the obvious problems, it was on the most part very well done. The whole Ulrica scene, in this production incredibly compelling helped a lot I think by Stephanie Blythe, for me was the highlight, while the dancing and choreography was done with a lot of verve and energy. Deborah Voight hosts, and not only does she look lovely she also clearly has a great love for the music and for her job. Her interviews with the cast and her overview on forthcoming events were just fascinating.

The performances are superb. While his low notes are underpowered in Di' Tu Se Fedele, Marcelo Alvarez really makes for a wonderful and appropriately self-absorbed Gustavo, with ringing high notes and burnished tone. Even in Act 1 he gets to dance and he is remarkably good at it and loves it, in fact you could tell he was really enjoying himself in this role. Sondra Radvanovsky was splendid as Amelia. Okay, so her vibrato is rather wide which gives her a flatness in the lower middle register, but the overall tone is earthy and rich and used with very sensitive artistry. Dramatically, she is incredibly moving, especially in her two arias. Her truly emotional Morrò, Ma Prima In Grazia was one of the highlights of the production.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky plays loyal, dignified, angry and vengeful to perfection as Renato. He does have clear chemistry with Radvanovsky as well as with Alvarez, scary in his treatment of her in Act 3 yet heart-breaking in Eri Tu. He is in great voice, it is not a large one but it is warm and beautiful that like Radvanovsky is used with great artistry. And I only had to look at his eyes to see that he meant and felt every word of Eri Tu, and he moved me to tears consequently. In the role of Oscar, I can't say anything bad of Kathleen Kim apart from some ensembles where she isn't as well-heard as everybody else. Her voice again is not the largest in size, but is more than made up for in its brightness and agility. On stage as well, she is immensely charming and cute as a button. Didn't see the need for the goatee though, though that is not Kim's fault so I'm not using that against her.

Stephanie Blythe's Ulrica is a powerhouse. Ulrica is a character that appears only in one scene in Act 1 and Blythe dominates it. Vocally she is thrilling, with a huge, commanding voice that has many tone colours and an evenness in the range. Her bottom notes, especially the low G were especially volcanic. She is effortlessly gripping dramatically as well, apart from Alvarez's aria most eyes are directed on her and for good reason. Samuel and Tom are well-performed by Keith Miller and David Crawford. Overall, while I can definitely see why some may not like it, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it despite its problems. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox

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