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Verdi's Masked Ball with Freddie De Tommaso and Saioa Hernandez at the Opera in remarkable performances

Monday, 5 February 2024 , ora 10.35

Giuseppe Verdi composed the piece Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball) in 1859, based on the theme used by the composer Daniel Auber and the librettist Eugene Scribe in the grand-opera Gustave III, ou Le bal masque, which premiered at the Paris Opera in 1833; it is about the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden, who was shot while attending a masked ball. The story intertwines political intrigues, forbidden love and murder. Initially, it retained some of the historical figures involved in this conspiracy and assasination. It must be said, however, that the music sheet went through multiple transformations (imposed by censorship and/or various regulations) until it gained the form we are familiar with today.

This Sunday I suggest you listen to one of the most recent and most valuable Verdi opera discs; this is an album released in June of 2023 by the Pentatone disc label. Marek Janowski conducts the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Transylvanian State Philharmonic Choir from Cluj-Napoca and famous vocalists of our day: tenor Freddie De Tommaso (Riccardo), the baritone Lester Lynch (Renato) and the soprano Saioa Hernández (Amelia). The three vocalists already have vast experience performing Verdi's repertoire. Young Freddie De Tommaso, being only 30 years old, has already had parts in operas such as Simon Boccanegra, Traviata, Macbeth, Otello and Nabucco; and this month he is also Riccardo from the Masked Ball on the stage of the Barcelona Highschool. The British-Italian artist's repertoire also includes Verdi's Requiem. So far, Lester Lynch has been Amonasro in Aida, Germont in Traviata, Count de Luna in The Troubadour, Rigoletto, Iago in Otello, as well as Falstaff and Paolo in Simon Boccanegra, Renato in The Masked Ball and Macbeth. Saioa Hernandez's repertoire, another extraordinary voice of our times, includes leading roles in Verdi's Aida, Attila, The Masked Ball, The Troubadour, The Force of Destiny, Traviata, as well as Luisa Miller, Macbeth, Nabucco and Rigoletto.

The international cast of this disc is completed by the contralto Elisabeth Kulman (Ulrica), the soprano Annika Gerhards (Oscar), the bass-baritone Kevin Short (Samuel), the bass Adam Lau (Tom), the baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra (Silvano) and by the tenor Samy Camps (The Judge/Servant).

One of the most renowned band masters of our time, Marek Janowski already has an extensive discography at the Pentatone disc label, working alongside this Dutch company mainly on albums with German operas and symphonic works. After Cavalleria rusticana and Il Tabarro (both released in 2020), this is his third Italian opera recording for Pentatone.

I am thrilled by the presence of the Transylvanian State Philharmonic Choir from Cluj-Napoca, a very well trained ensemble conducted by Cornel Groza, which has already appeared on several opera albums released by Pentatone, including a wonderful disc of Puccini's opera La fanciulla del West, conducted by Lawrence Foster; it is a disc that I also suggested to you a few years ago at the Opera in remarkable performances.

So, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday the 4th of February 2024 at 9 pm to hear one of the most recent recordings of Verdi's A Masked Ball.

Irina Cristina Vasilescu
Translated by Andreea Cuprian,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu