When The Masked Ball Goes Wrong: Un Ballo In Maschera at the SF Opera

This performance of Verdi's political opera Un Ballo In Maschera on October 4, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. was one of the best performances I experienced at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. The cast worked well together and the music just seemed to flow from the heart.

Dolora Zajick, performing the cameo and prominent role of Ulrica, was splendid in her acting as well as singing. The audience was enraptured by Ulrica's spell. The only thing I didn't like was that I thought that her costume should have been darker than it was. Maybe the whole scene should have been a little bit darker than it was.

Christian Van Horn and Scott Conner, performing the roles of Sam and Tom, were extremely charismatic in their enthusiastic interpretation of the roles. The audience soon found themselves rooting for Sam n' Tom despite their antagonistic characters, and I personally was relieved when they didn't get caught.

Heidi Stober, performing the role of the young Oscar, was in a good voice. Her voice was flying vividly over the orchestra as she pretended to be a young boy, which must be rather difficult when you're not.

Ramón Vargas, performing the role of the passionate and respectable Riccardo, was smooth in his interpretation. He was a little bit stiff at the beginning, which is understandable, and then let himself go. I don't actually think that jumping off a barrel was a good idea for the King of Sweden. The action was too nimble for him.

Thomas Hampson, the jealous Renato, performed his two arias with great dignity and strength of emotions. He's a wonderful actor and along with the evil conspirators Sam n' Tom an excellent trio was formed. This trio provided the final scene with low, luscious tones resonating over the rest of the voices.

Julianna Di Giocomo, performing the broken-hearted Amelia, was young and fit the role beautifully. She spent a lot of time battling with the stupid veil that would hang off the side of her head and get in the way. Despite this everlasting battle, she carried through the opera gorgeously, never losing her resonant tone.

A. J. Glueckert, the chief magistrate, was very funny despite his role being very small. Efraín Solís, sailor Silvano, was a perfect fit for the role because of his fresh and energetic voice.


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