A masked ballroom dance

Giuseppe Verdi

  • World premiere
  • Teatro Apollo din Roma, 17 februarie 1859
  • Romanian Opera Craiova Premiere
  • 24 aprilie 2001
  • Time Length
  • aprox. 3h – două pauze
  • Extra info
  • Spectacol în limba italiană cu supratitrare în limba română

Opera in three acts composed by Giuseppe Verdi.

Libretto by Antonio Somma.

The action takes place in Boston, at the end of the 17th century.


Scene 1 (Governor’s palace)

Riccardo, count of Warwick, Governor of Boston, has a public audience day. The people who are waiting also include Riccardo’s foils, unknown by him, grouped around Samuel and Tom. Oscar, the page, presents the list of guests to the masked ball that is to take place. The list includes Amelia, whom Riccardo is secretly in love with.

After the departure of the people who have come to audience, Renato arrives. He is Riccardo’s closest collaborator and friend, but also Amelia’s husband. Renato warns the governor of a plot aimed at murdering him. The presence of his devoted friend, who has warned him of the upcoming danger, distresses Riccardo and makes him feel remorse. His love for Amelia is the betrayal of the duty of their friendship. The judge asks the governor to sign the expulsion of Ulrica, who was accused of witchcraft. Oscar, the page, defends her. Riccardo does not believe what he is told. In order to be sure, he will go to Ulrica in disguise.

Scene 2

Ulrica is surrounded by a group of supporters. In order to impress them and take advantage of their innocence, she invokes demonic spirits. Riccardo, dressed as a fisherman, also is present. Silvano, a brave sailor, who has been serving the governor for a long time, receives Ulrica’s first forecast: “You will soon receive some money and be promoted”. Intent on rewarding Silvano, as well as mocking all those who believe in magic, the governor slips a purse of money and a paper where he signs the man’s appointment as an officer, into this pocket. Amelia’s servant arrives. He has come to ask that Ulrica should meet his mistress. The people who are present are asked to go away. However, Riccardo recognizes the servant and hides, willing to hear what they are talking. Amelia, scared by her love for Riccardo and unable to remove this feeling, wants Ulrica’s help. She is recommended a herb that she must reap herself from the gallows-place. Riccardo decides to follow her.

Voices are heard. As Amelia leaves, the governor’s court appears, along with Samuel and Tom. Riccardo, seeing that his friends have arrived, comes out of the hideout, approaches Ulrica and asks that his future should be guessed as well. Ulrica says he will be murdered by a friend, namely the one who will first shake his hand. Defying the prediction, the governor wants to shake hands with those surrounding him, but no one shakes his hand back. Renato appears and greets Riccardo. Unaware of the prediction, he also shakes his hand. “This is my best friend”, the governor says. “Beware of traitors!” the reply comes. In the meanwhile, Silvano recognizes the governor and realizes he has to thank him for the money and the promotion. Overwhelmed with joy, he acclaims him.


Scene 3 (at night, at the gallows-place)

Amelia, though fearful, is searching for the herb she has been referred to. Riccardo meets her. As they face one another, they confess their love, that they have been long hiding. The ecstasy is interrupted by Renato’s appearance. Amelia covers her face with her veil, so that she may not be recognized. Renato has come to warn Riccardo that the group of conspirators is approaching the gallows-place. He must run! Before leaving, Riccardo asks Renato to take the veiled lady to the gates of the city, without trying to finding out her identity. The conspirators, led by Samuel and Tom, come close. Much to their dismay, they find Renato with a woman. The swords cross. Amelia’s veil falls down. Surprise! The conspirators laugh. Renato, full of anger, invites Samuel and Tom to his house on the following day.


Scene 4 (Renato’s home)

The two spouses have a violent discussion. After remaining alone, melancholically remembering his happy days, which are now lost, Renato curses the man he thought was his friend.

Samuel and Tom have arrived at the meeting. Renato lets them know that he has decided to join the conspiracy. As Amelia comes back into the room, Renato makes her draw lots for the name of the man who is to kill the governor. Amelia hesitates, then takes out the note mentioning Renato’s name. The scene is interrupted by Oscar, who has come to invite them to the masked ball. The three men are startled: the ball will be used to assassinate the governor. Amelia has understood the plan. She must warn Riccardo.

Scene 5 (in the big hall of the Governor palace)

Riccardo is waiting for the guests. He has decided to sacrifice his love for Amelia. He will send both spouses to England. Oscar brings the governor a letter from an unknown woman, letting him know that they will try to kill him during the ball. Riccardo refuses to worry. He will stay with his guests! The ball has begun. Renato recognizes Oscar and finds out what costume will the governor wear. Amelia approaches Riccardo and insistently asks him to leave the room. Riccardo says goodbye, his honour obliges him to give up their love. Their farewell is interrupted. Renato’s dagger has been merciless. The governor falls down. The music stops. Renato takes out his mask, facing the looks of everyone around: the honour has been saved!

With his last breath, Riccardo orders that Renato should be set free, he swears to him that Amelia is innocent, he hands him the document of return to England for him and Amelia and forgives the conspirators. The voices of Amelia, Oscar and Renato join the crowd in a scream of horror.


*Grigore Constantinescu & Daniela Caraman-Fotea, Ghid de operă, Bucharest, 1971

**Ana Buga & Cristina Maria Sârbu, 4 secole de teatru muzical, Bucharest, 1999

***Ioana Ștefănescu, O istorie a muzicii universale, Vol. IV, Bucharest, 2002