Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera
Francesco Meli (Riccardo), Vladimir Stoyanov (Renato), Kristin Lewis (Amelia), Elisabetta Fiorillo (Ulrica), Serena Gamberoni (Oscar), Filippo Polinelli (Silvano), Antonio Barbagallo (Samuel), Enrico Rinaldo (Tom), Cosimo Vassallo (Un giudice), Enrico Paolillo (A servant), Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma, Martino Faggiani (Chorus Master), Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Parma, Gianluigi Gelmetti (Conductor), Massimo Gasparon (Stage Director after Pierluigi Samaritani), Pierluigi Samaritani (Set and Costume Designer), Andrea Borelli (Lighting Designer), Roberto Maria Pizzuto (Choreographer), Tiziano Mancini (Video Director)
Recorded live at the Teatro Regio di Parma (October 1, 5, 9, 13, 20 & 23, 2011) – 149’ (including bonus introduction)
C Major Entertainment # 724208 – (distributed by Naxos of America) Booklet in English, German, French and Italian – Subtitles available in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese
Pierluigi Samaritani has his stamp of opulent tradition in one of Verdi’s most taut operas, Un ballo in maschera. When the curtain rises on Act I, we find singers compartmentalized by color that never separate: it reinforces Roberto Maria Pizzuto’s rather uneventful, static choreography. Only in the masked ball scene is there ever a sign of clever stepping (from the dancers), but it lacks any true zip. Children are included in both sections, and they create an annoying distraction, looking unrehearsed (the youngest children don’t have any comprehension of their purpose) and acting gawky. This desultory tidbit dilutes the music and drama.
Likely the best performance comes from Serena Gamberoni as Oscar in which she possesses nonstop perkiness and exuberance in acting alongside celerity of notes especially during her cavatina in Act I. She is a fitting spark plug in this ballo. Kristin Lewis is dressed in some of Samaritani’s most ravishing colors while she achieves volumetric projection yet fights to a screech in her upper tessitura. Similarly, Elisabetta Fiorillo has the stature as an ideal Ulrica, her contralto voice pleasant in the lower reaches yet wobbly in the center. Vladimir Stoyanov has that wonderful masculine stretch inside his baritone vocabulary, and he delivers a compelling display in the role of Renato. Francesco Meli nicely captures the prefect of Boston’s cockiness and confidence as Riccardo in which the audience is awarded with polished notes and a fervent attitude of invincibility.
Gianluigi Gelmetti leads the Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Parma with a no-nonsense tempo that is in keeping with the intensity of this melodramma. Once again Martino Faggiani masters the vocal demands in four sections to make the choral foundation a solid one.
This Un ballo in maschera can be eyed as an aesthetic attraction, with pleasant patches of mild perfection, but the sum of all parts convinces us it doesn’t quite achieve the whole.