In the confusion of masks, the blow can only be fatal;it will be a funeral dance with pale beauties
- Samuel et Tom, Acte III, scène 4
When he composed Un ballo in maschera, Verdi already had numerous masterpieces to his name. He now aspired to new and extremel bold subjects.
History was to supply him with a subject this time: the assassination of the King of Sweden, Gustave III, in 1792 at a masked ball. In Naples, however, censorship was the order of the day: one could not assassinate a king on stage and the composer found himself obliged to transpose his ball to Boston at the end of the 17th century. This opera combines politics with passion: it is his love for a woman, his jealousy and folly that guide Renato’s hand as he stabs his friend Riccardo… The director Gilbert Deflo retains the American setting for this drama but places the action at the time of the work’s composition, in a universe of chiaroscuro in which monumental sets predominate.