Last night I attended a performance of the Canadian Opera Company‘s (COC) production of Un Ballo in Mashera (A Masked Ball) by Guiseppe Verdi. It starred Adrianne Pieczonka (Amelia), Dimitri Pittas (Riccardo), Elena Manistina (Ulrica), Roland Wood (Renato), and Simone Osborne (Oscar.)
The performance was conducted by Stephen Lord, and c0-directed by Jossi Wieler & Sergio Morabito with the set designed by Barbara Ehnes. The revival director is Samantha Seymour.
This production is based on the ‘Boston Version’ of A Masked Ball. This means Riccardo, the Governor of Boston in the late 17th Century rather than King Gustavo of Sweden. However, in this production, the action takes place in the 1960’s in the Southwest U.S., presumably Las Vegas. Also, this productions used one set for the entire action, which I found confusing at times, especially as it looks like a ballroom (although it was appropriate for Act 3.)
The singing, especially by Toronto’s Adrianne Pieczonka, was outstanding. Canada should be extremely proud her. The orchestra was equally wonderful as conducted by Maestro Lord.
Riccardo (Dimitri Pittas) was vocally sound. Although the character was portrayed to be more of immature adult along with more teenage style handshaking, even playing rock-paper-scissors with Renato and Amelia’s son at one point. However, this does not take much away from Mr. Pittas’ stunning protrayal.
Ulrica was portrayed in this production as being blind in Act 1, yet is seen walking around pouring drinks during Act 3. Is she blind or not? In the end I could not tell.
During the second act, everyone is in pyjamas. While the action does take place in the middle of the night, you have to wonder why people would honestly go out in their pyjamas, especially the conspirators on the Governor’s life, who were presumably planning to follow him.
Despite the setbacks with the style of production, overall the quality of the singing and orchestra make this production worthwhile. For most of the performance they make you forget about the staging while you are absorbed by their very moving portrayals. If you get a chance to see the production, I certainly recommend that you do.
The production runs until February 22nd at the Four Centres Centre for the Performing Arts.