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Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

Giuseppe Verdi
Un ballo in maschera
Salzburger Festspiele, 1990

Plácido Domingo (Gustavo)
Leo Nucci (Renato)
Josephine Barstow (Amelia)
Florence Quivar (Ulrica)
Sumi Jo (Oscar)
Jean-Luc Chaignaud (Christiano)
Kurt Rydl (Horn)
Goran Simic (Ribbing)
Wolfgang Witte (Un giudice)
Adolf Tomaschek (Un servo)

Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor
Wiener Philharmoniker

Sir Georg Solti

Stage Director: John Schlesinger


“This is destined to become a classic recording.” - Joe McLellan,

TDK releases on DVD yet another gem from the archives of Austrian Television. The outstanding production of Verdi’s Masked Ball at the Salzburg Festivals 1989 and 1990 was Herbert von Karajan’s legacy to the Festival. Supported by a cast of superlative actor-singers in opulent scenery, Sir Georg Solti agreed to conduct the opera at short notice after Karajan’s unexpected death in 1989.

For Un ballo in maschera Karajan planned something unusual: he would not set the opera in colonial Massachusetts, as the censors had forced Verdi to do when he was composing the work, but in Stockholm in the 1790s at the court of King Gustav III of Sweden, as Verdi had originally conceived. Together with the film director John Schlesinger and his stage team, Karajan developed a concept that promised theatrical splendor equal to the musical excellence that the conductor and the handpicked cast of singers would surely provide in collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. But this was not to be: stage rehearsals had already begun for the opening performance of the 1989 festival when Karajan died on July 16th.

The performance on this DVD was recorded when Un ballo in maschera was revived for six performances the following year, with the same cast and with Solti back on the podium. However, 40,000 applications for tickets could not be met, and it may have been some comfort to the ticketless that ORF transmitted the première live on television—not only to Austria but also simultaneously to Japan.


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