So a new production for 2019 of Verdi's great Un Ballo in Maschera – A Masked Ball – holds great promise, with its big set pieces and rousing chorus numbers. Designer takis, an Opera Holland Park regular, returns to work his magic again, this time creating a thinly disguised Italian court: 19th-century censors, sensing Verdi was having a dig at Italy's own political scene in his lifetime, put pressure on the composer to change the setting. There are versions set in Boston, Massachusetts, and also in Sweden, where the story is originally based.
Wherever we are in the world, the universally-recognisable political skullduggery, deadly threats, warnings and love affairs that are at the heart of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera are subjects that could be in any day's newspaper.
Gustavo, King of Sweden, is sung by Italian tenor Matteo Lippi, who was hugely impressive at OHP in Puccini's La Rondine in 2017 and whose return is a very happy thing. Gustavo is preparing for a masked ball, but receives news that his life is in danger. His position of power and his love for Amelia are put to the test as the opera comes to its spectacular end at the grand ball, where disguise is vital.
OHP favourite Anne Sophie Duprels sings Amelia. Listen out too for John Savournin as Count Horn, and baritone Eddie Wade, who recently sang the Father in the Royal Opera House's Hansel and Gretel at a few hours' notice.
And look out for veteran actress Rosalind Plowright as Madame Arvidson, a fortune teller.
'Un Ballo in Maschera' is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Public booking opens at 10AM on Wed 27 Feb. In a pre-performance talk at 5:45PM on Wed 19 June Professor Jeremy Black discusses Sweden's Gustavus III and the assassination plot that inspired Verdi's opera
|What||Un Ballo in Maschera, Opera Holland Park|
|Nearest tube||High Street Kensington (underground)|
08 Jun 19 – 29 Jun 19, 12 performances
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|