Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer
Forbidden love, betrayal, and murder are some of the themes explored in Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) as the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series continues to unravel before viewers at Palace Amusement cinemas.
The opera, in three acts with libretto by Antonio Somma, took viewers on a dynamic, emotional journey, focusing on the plights of King Gustavo III, who is caught up with his ill-fated infatuation for the wife of his most-trusted friend, while conspirators plot the king's death.
Marcelo Alvarez (Gustavo), Sandra Radvanovsky (Amelia, Renato's wife) and Dimitri Hvorostovsky (Renato) are brilliant in the lead roles.
They each delivered an emotionally charged performance which hauntingly conveyed the abysmal depths of empathy that the opera pulls out of its audience.
Un Ballo in Maschera is laden with equal amounts of excitement and tension and the principals are able to showcase their range as Verdi takes the watcher on a dramatic rollercoaster.
It is the juxtaposition of the three acts and the range of emotions that they each carry which makes the opera such a spectacle to behold, although emotionally taxing.
Act I went from festive to frightening as we are introduced to the seemingly supernatural Madame Ulrica, mistress of the dark.
Stephanie Blythe is delightfully eerie as the sorceress Ulrica and commands the latter part of the first act.
Act I ends with Ulrica telling a doubtful Gustavo that he will be murdered by the next person whose hand he shakes, which happens to be Renato.
Act II then takes on a more dismal tone as the forbidden lovers finally confront each other only to be confronted themselves by an unfortunate turn of events.
This segues into Act III where the opera then becomes a dark and morbid affair.
It is always a spectacle to see a coloratura soprano at work and Un Ballo in Maschera and Kathleen Kim is brilliant in her trouser role as Oscar, Gustavo's page.
The set-up of the stage highlighted the versatility of the Met Opera house as the size of the vast stage was significantly scaled down to accommodate Verdi's spectacle.
Each week we see the stage transformed into various historic and stunning sceneries and Un Ballo in Maschera showcased the most drastic transformation yet.
This Saturday is expected to showcase one of the Met's biggest productions as the opera house tackles another Verdi masterpiece, Aida, which is one of the most anticipated operas of the season.