Renata Scotto directs Verdi's A Masked Ball - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Renata Scotto directs Verdi's A Masked Ball

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Friday, November 5, 2010

Grand opera at its grandest!
Renata Scotto directs Verdi’s A Masked Ball
at Lyric Opera of Chicago in a lush traditional production
starring Frank Lopardo, Sondra Radvanovsky,
Mark Delavan, Stephanie Blythe, and Kathleen Kim
Nov. 15-Dec. 10 – or 312-827-5600 for tickets  

A magnificent drama of love, betrayal, and revenge, A Masked Ball is among the most significant works of Giuseppe Verdi’s middle period. A Swedish monarch flirts with his trusted friend’s wife and soon they’re on the road to perdition.

A Masked Ball centers on Gustavus*, King of Sweden (tenor Frank Lopardo), based on the real-life king of that name, who was in fact shot at a masked ball and died of his injuries. Gustavus loves Amelia (soprano Sondra Radvanovsky), wife of his secretary and best friend, Count Anckarström* (baritone Mark Delavan). With his page Oscar (soprano Kathleen Kim), Gustavus visits a fortuneteller, Mme. Arvidson* (mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, debut). She reveals that he will be killed by the next person who shakes his hand. Gustavus is amused, especially when that person turns out to be Anckarström – but the fortuneteller’s dire prediction comes true in the end. (*Please note that these characters are often called Gustavo, Renato, and Ulrica respectively, but in this production the Swedish names are being used at the stage director’s behest.)

Conducted by Asher Fisch (Philip Morehead on Dec. 10), the production is directed by legendary soprano Renata Scotto (who sang the role of Amelia in Lyric’s 1980 revival). The production, owned by San Francisco Opera, was designed by Zack Brown. Christine Binder is lighting designer. 

A Masked Ball  has been one of the most popular Verdi operas at Lyric, first heard here in 1955 and produced subsequently in ten different seasons, most recently in a new production in 2002-03.

Says William Mason, Lyric’s general director, “This is a traditional production with handsome sets and gorgeous costumes. We have a very impressive cast, with Lyric favorite Frank Lopardo, who starred in Elixir of Love last season; Sondra Radvanovsky, the premiere Verdi soprano of our time who starred in Ernani last season, and the thrillingly menacing Mark Delavan, who sang both baritone roles in Cav/Pag a few seasons ago. The much-heralded mezzo Stephanie Blythe will make her long-awaited Lyric debut; and Lyric’s own Kathleen Kim, who’s having such great successes at the Met, returns to Lyric in the trouser role of Oscar.”

This Lyric Opera presentation of A Masked Ball is generously made possible by the NIB Foundation, Margot and Joseph Lakonishok, an Anonymous Donor, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes.

A Masked Ball is performed in Italian with projected English translations. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., except for matinees at 2:00 p.m.:  Nov. 15, 18, 21 (mat), 24, 27, 30, Dec. 4, 10 (mat).  A free pre-opera lecture starts an hour before each performance in the Ardis Krainik Theatre.

The Mon., Nov. 15 opening-night performance of A Masked Ball will air on 98.7WFMT and beginning at 7:15 p.m., with WFMT’s George Preston as host and Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines as commentator. The Matthew Bucksbaum Family is the generous sponsor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Bucksbaum Family Broadcasts through the 2011-12 season, with generous matching funds provided by The Crown Family and Richard P. and Susan Kiphart.

A week before the opening, attend the Discovery Series session on A Masked Ball to hear stage director and opera legend Renata Scotto, tenor Frank Lopardo (King Gustavus), and Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines discuss duty, honor, and middle-period Verdi. Monday, November 8, 6 - 7 p.m. at the UBS Tower Ballroom, 1 N. Wacker Dr. (directly across from the Civic Opera House). $16. Call the Education Department for more information: (312) 827-5912.

For production photos, please contact Carrie Napolilli after Nov. 12:  312-827-5923 or