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at the Opera

Tonight we went to the Boston Lyric Opera to see Un ballo in maschera, a work by Verdi that I'd never seen. It was a nice production with the lead tenor, playing the King, being especially good. From their web site a 27-second synopsis:
King Gustav loves his best friend's wife. She loves him back. The innocent friend is loyal to them both at first, warning the King about plots to kill him. Over various scenes of fortune-telling, midnight herb-hunting, disguise, and a masked ball, the friend learns what's going on in a very humiliating way. He joins the assassins, and—at the ball—stabs the king (but not the wife). With his last breath, the king forgives his friend and all the would-be assassins. The final chorus declares what a lousy party that was.

One of the interesting things about this opera is that when it first opened they changed the locale to Boston from Sweden because some of the plot was based on the story of the actual assassination of the King of Sweden some 70 years before.

This made me think about a couple of scenes in a possible modern opera:

Early in the opera there is a sequence ending in a trio with Count William Jefferson, Contessa Rodham, and Thatwomeninsky - featuring the Count pleading Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

There is a later scene with a duel between Baron Algo and the Duke of Texas which needs to be settled by Justicio Antonio.
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Actually more to the point, in Verdi’s time there was a general unease in Italy concerning the theatrical depiction of European regicide (and one that was relatively recent; Gustav was killed in 1792, and the opera was premiered in 1859), so Verdi was essentially forced by censors in Naples and then Rome to change the locale of the opera to America and change the King to a colonial governor; it’s only been recently (the most recent Met production featured Pavarotti, Aprile Millo, Harolyn Blackwell, Florence Quivar, and my homie from Texas Tech, Terry Cook) that the opera has been “restored” to Sweden.

I just saw that there's going to be an evening of opera in Davis Square, and thought you might be interested.

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