Envy and conspiracies, but also passion, jealousy, revenge and final forgiveness come together in Verdi's masterpiece, which aroused the wrath and prohibitions of the censors of the time to the point of forcing the composer and librettist to make changes to it: from the original Sweden to faraway Boston.
The great Polish tenor Piotr Beczala returns to the Liceu with one of his signature titles, accompanied by soprano Keri Alkema. Vincent Boussard's staging reinforces the dark and mysterious atmosphere surrounding the piece, with costumes by Christian Lacroix and the sober scenography of Vincent Lemaire, which allows us to concentrate our attention on the dramatic core of the score. The cast, directed by a true specialist like Renato Palumbo, also features a benchmark in Verdian singing: Dolora Zajick.
Melodramma in three acts
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Antonio Somma, based on the libretto by Agustin Eugène Scribe Locle for the Gustave III, ou le bal masqué by Daniel Auber
Coproduction of the Staatstheater Nürnberg and the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse
Chorus and Symphonic Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu
Children's chorus Amics de la Unió de Granollers
Conductor | Renato Palumbo
Stage director | Vincent Boussard
Set designer | Vincent Lemaire
Costume designer | Christian Lacroix
Lighting designer | Guido Levi
Chorus master | Conxita Garcia
Children's chorus master | Josep Vila i Jover
Riccardo | Piotr Beczala
Renato | Carlos Álvarez
Amelia | Keri Alkema
Ulrica | Dolora Zajick
Oscar | Elena Sancho Pereg
In September 2008 the Neapolitan stage and screen director, Mario Martone, changed the setting of this opera from the late 17th to the 19th century. He believed that Verdi’s story of passion and political rivalry was better suited to the composer’s own era. In this opera, Verdi breaks free from the strict forms of arias and duets, creating larger ensembles with a more fluid and wide-ranging musical discourse. At the same time, he skilfully uses the conventional forms and styles which were the legacy of French comic opera (the character of Oscar) and of grand opera, connecting them to the tradition of Italian opera.
Verdi’s enormous talent for creating well-rounded characters, his keen sense of drama and endless musical inspiration are all on display in this work, in which he skilfully balances drama and comedy, large ensembles and intimate moments, the bustle of the court and the inner dramas of the protagonists. Loyalty, treachery and passion are the three fundamental elements of Un ballo in maschera. Each one has its own theme which we hear in the overture. Passion, however, is the over-riding sentiment of the dramatic final scenes.
Gabrielle D’Annunzio said that Un ballo in maschera was “the most melodramatic of all operas”.
Based on Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love), Verdi’s tragic melodrama Luisa Miller revolves around the loves of the heroine of the title and Rodolfo, son of Count Walter, and the machinations of the Count’s steward, Wurm, who wants Luisa for himself, resulting in the death of all three. Directed by Arnaud Bernard, who took as his inspiration Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1976 film 1900, this La Fenice production is led by the outstanding Bulgarian soprano Darina Takova whose intense characterization of Luisa emphasizes the heroine’s inner torture, and Giuseppe Sabbatini who brings a thrilling theatricality to the rôle of Rodolfo, especially in the most famous aria from the opera, "Quando le sere al placido".
With the collaboration of Naxos.
The opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi with libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni is embedded in the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires from its beginnings. It was the title with which the current building was inaugurated in 1908. Since then it has been performed countless times, with dazzling figures as Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Renata Tebaldi and María Callas, among others.
From 1966, the Argentine Roberto Oswald was in charge of the set and costume design and in 1989 was also responsible for the staging, with costumes by Aníbal Lápiz. This classic production of the Argentine house, made entirely in its workshops, was revived in May 2018 to celebrate the 110 years of the building, with a cast that featured the voices of Latonia Moore and Riccardo Massi along with local figures, the Resident Orchestra, Ballet and Choir of the Teatro Colón.
David Alden approaches the setting of Othello from the point of view of Giuseppe Verdi’s adaptation of the Shakespeare text. In the first act of the play, which Verdi omits, we see the great love of Desdemona, a young, beautiful woman of the Venetian upper class, for the rough-mannered and hot-tempered foreign soldier Othello. Her father, the patrician Brabantio, opposes their love. In the first act he asks how his daughter could have chosen to “run from her guardage to the sooty bosom of such a thing as thou, to fear, not to delight.”
Desdemona’s love for Otello is even thought to be a thing of magic. In contrast, Otello’s love for Desdemona is perfectly logical: Desdemona is so refined, so white, so aristocratic and so devout that anyone could understand why Otello would fall in love with her. They love each other, but their difference in social standing is undeniable. And these differences will be how the resentful, devilish Lieutenant Iago is able to wreak his vengeance on his General, Otello, for not promoting him to Captain as he had hoped.
This vengeance requires a minimum of effort, because all he really has to do is convince Otello of what everyone else already believes: such a gentlewoman could never really love someone like him. Consequently, it is very easy for him to make Otello believe that Desdemona has fallen in love with a man of her own rank, Cassio, whom Iago describes as the antithesis of Othello. And so, despite Otello’s noble soul - even though Desdemona truly loves him, even though Cassio is loyal and honourable -, Iago’s insinuations take root and Otello believes that Desdemona is unfaithful to him.
In the play, Shakespeare explains the action through the theme of racism, this is the driving force of the tragedy. But both the librettist, Arrigo Boito, and Verdi understood that the drama could be even more intense if racism played a less prominent part. The focus was put on the fragility of a character who physically differs little from any of the others; a vulnerable character who is dominated by inner turmoil. Thus Verdi reduces racism to a marginal issue which is scarcely mentioned. David Alden takes a similar approach: Otello is an outsider; he is “other” because that is how he feels inside. He need not be black or physically different from the other characters.
His conflict is internal: insecurity, that which has led so many men to commit the worst atrocities. We watch with horrified fascination the tragic disintegration of the hero, locked into the destructive cycle of destiny. The set design suggests a courtyard in Cyprus, but above all, this is a militarised, brutal world with dehumanised soldiers in a war which prevents them from responding to love or tenderness. In this context, Otello brings us face-to-face with one of the most secret human fears: to not feel worthy of what one loves most.
Renato Palumbo, who has conducted Les Huguenots, Tosca and La Traviata at the Real, returns with another Verdi classic with the Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, much acclaimed for her performance in La Traviata in 2014. She is accompanied by tenor Gregory Kunde, whose interpretation of the difficult role of Otello is one of the most highly regarded. He also opened the 2016 season at the Teatro Real to great applause for his Roberto Devereux. Alongside them as the cruel and crafty Iago is baritone George Petean, who brought the 2016 season to a close in the opera I puritani.
In this cinema-inspired and highly poetic staging, Pier Luigi Pizzi brings us Verdi’s great drama to the salons and bedrooms of 1940s Paris. Norah Amsellem, in her magnificent performance as Violetta, is accompanied by José Bros as Alfredo and the great Renato Bruson in the role of Germont, under the masterly baton of Jesús López Cobos.
La traviata is the third and last opera in the 'popular trilogy’ (together with Rigoletto and Il trovatore), which marked the start of Giuseppe Verdi’s artistic maturity, and is with good reason one of his most beloved works. It is based on a famous novel by Alexandre Dumas fils, La Dame aux Camélias, telling the sad story of Marie Duplessis, the celebrated Parisian courtesan who died of that quintessentially Romantic disease, tuberculosis. La Traviata was the first opera to tell the unhappy story of a woman brought down by the hypocrisy of bourgeois morality, with an unprecedented level of realism. Violetta Valéry discovers true love with the young Alfredo Germont, but is forced to give him up at the request of his father, Giorgio Germont.
Verdi drew upon his own relationship with Giuseppina Strepponi, his future wife and loyal supporter, in this work. Its debut, on March 6, 1853 at La Fenice in Venice, was a failure, largely due to presenting scenes from ordinary life rather than stories about aristocrats and rulers. In this production, which opened the 2003-2004 opera season to great acclaim, Pier Luigi Pizzi set the work in Nazi-occupied Paris, where the characters are living from day to day in a permanent state of war, heightening their passion, the only thing they can hold onto.
Three of the greatest operas of Giuseppe Verdi were inspired by the admiration he felt towards the genius of William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff, his final opera and second comedy. It is an ideal work, teaching us to take life lightly and laugh at ourselves, and it comes to the Teatro Real in a new production by the talented master in humor, Laurent Pelly. His most recent productions on this stage have been: La Fille du régiment, Hänsel und Greteland The Golden Cockerel. Daniele Rustioni conducts two markedly Spanish casts, together with the house Chorus and Orchestra.