Murder on the dance floor
King Gustav is in love with his best friend’s wife, Amelia, but must pay dearly for that love. A Masked Ball is among Verdi’s most beautiful, yet also most political operas. Experience it with traditional costumes and maritime scenes inspired by Scandinavian sea trade.
When power, politics and love collide, the results can be fatal – as King Gustav III of Sweden so painfully experiences when he is shot by Captain Anckarström during a masked ball at the Royal Swedish Opera on 16 March 1792.
Verdi’s opera is about this dramatic event in world history and the events leading up to it. If you enjoy Victorian dresses, grand chorus scenes and classic set design with a maritime theme, this performance is just for you!
Verdi’s intense love duet
The opera has been called ‘Verdi’s Tristan and Isolde’ and may very well include the most beautiful duet ever written by the Italian opera master – when Amelia and Gustav declare their love for one another.
The stage is filled with the top echelon of soloists, with Marita Sølberg as Amelia, Matteo Lippi as King Gustav and Yngve Søberg as Captain Anckarström. The new music director of the Oslo Opera House, Edward Gardner, is in charge of the musical direction.
A story about censorship
Killing a king onstage was radical and unthinkable in Italy in the 1850s. When Verdi’s opera premiered in Rome in 1859, the action was therefore placed in 17th century Boston and with a governor instead of a king.
We are performing the original version, where the story takes place in Stockholm.
Co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen
King Gustav III is in love with the wife of his best friend Anckarström. A fortune teller predicts the king's imminent death, and a masquerade at the opera turns out to be a perfect opportunity for Anckarström to assassinate the king.
The King, Gustav III is popular and just – but even the most revered sovereign has his enemies… Gustav is no exception. He also carries a deep secret – his love for Amelia, the wife of his best friend, Anckarström.
The King is asked to sign an order for the arrest of Ulrica Arfvidsson, a suspected sorceress. But Gustav refuses to sign without grounds; he wishes to investigate the strange 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 Gustav and his men appear — amongst them the page Oscar and Anckarström. Ulrica foresees Gustav’s near death — and that his murderer will be the next person to shake his hand. The only person to dare shake his hand is Anckarström, 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. Gustav has followed her, and they declare their love for each other. Anckarström turns up wanting to save the King from an ambush by conspiring enemies.
Amelia quickly hides her face, and Gustav asks his friend to escort the unknown woman back to town.
The King escapes; upon their arrival, the conspirators encounter Anckarstrom instead. They demand to see the identity of the mystery woman and Amelia becomes unveiled while saving her husband’s life.
Realizing his “friend’s” betrayal, Anckarström becomes furious and decides to join the King’s adversaries. Furthermore, Amelia must die for her adulterous love for the King.
Later that day the conspirators meet up with Anckarström and plan a coup against the King. They force Amelia to draw the name of Gustav’s assassin – and Anckarström is thrilled when the draw falls upon him. Oscar delivers an invitation to a masked ball at the royal palace – presenting them with the perfect opportunity to kill Gustav.
Gustav battles with his hopeless love for Amelia, and chooses to send her abroad with Anckarström – perhaps she would forget him in time. That evening, at the masked ball, Anckarström as prophesied murders the King.
The King swears on his deathbed that Amelia is innocent – Anckarström bitterly regrets his actions.
Artistic team and cast
Original titleUn ballo in maschera
ConductorsEdward Gardner/ Aage Richard Meyer
Set designAlex Eales
Lighting designGiuseppe Di Iorio
ParticipantsOpera Chorus, Children's Chorus, Opera Orchestra
Kong Gustav III
Mamsell Ulrica Arfvidson
Oscar, en pasje
Kristian, en matros