Sweden Verdi, Un ballo in maschera: Soloists, Refrain of Opera på Skärets, Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Lorenzo Coladonato (conductor). Opera på Skäret, Kopparberg, Sweden, 30.7.2022. (GF)
Director – Alexander Niclasson
Set designer – Sven Östberg
Choreographer – Per-Birger Stenudd
Costume designer – Sigyn Stenqvist, Caroline Romar
Lighting designer – Kevin Wyn-Jones
Assistant Director – Ida Gudim
Refrain grasp – Sten Niclasson
Gustav III – Paolo Lardizzone
Amelia – Kseniya Bakhritdinova-Kravchuk
Anckarström – Valdis Jansons
Ulrica – Siv Misund
Oscar – Giulia Bolcato
Ribbing – Albin Ahl
Horn – Zaza Gagua
Cristiano – Marcus Bartoletti
The Decide – Thomas Bärlin
Amelia’s Servant – Sebastian Hedlund
‘We’re rebooting’ says Opera Director and Founding father of Opera på Skäret, Sten Niclasson, in his foreword to this yr’s programme guide. After an unintended break of two years, brought on by the pandemic, they’re again on monitor once more, however financially it has been a tricky time, and Niclasson expresses his deep gratitude to those that have supported Opera på Skäret and made it attainable to outlive. Now it’s enterprise as ordinary once more, however the nice venture for 2020 and 2021, Turandot, needed to be deserted, to the remorse of artists and audiences alike. As an alternative, a Swedish model of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera has been launched. It was the composer’s drawback little one and needed to be rewritten a number of instances, as a result of the Italian censors wouldn’t settle for the homicide of a king on an operatic stage. This studying took us again to Verdi’s authentic ideas, with just a few parts from Erik Lindegren’s Swedish translation inserted to make the story extra plausible.
As ordinary the solid may be very worldwide, with singers from eight international locations. When Opera på Skäret invite singers to audition within the autumn they obtain tons of of functions from all around the world, and from this plethora of expertise they need to single out appropriate candidates for the 2 casts that alternate through the month-long run of the manufacturing – a fragile matter, to make sure. Hitherto they’ve efficiently managed to place their cash on the best horses, and this yr’s version isn’t any exception – if something, a better success than ever earlier than. Extra about this to observe.
As common readers – or guests – will know, the technical assets at Opera på Skäret are restricted. There’s a turntable that may create varied background settings, however in any other case the units are impartial, and that is compensated by costumes and varied props. This yr the costumes are notably spectacular and lavish. Since historic details inform us that King Gustav was shot on 16 March 1792, the costumes are typical of that interval, however not essentially slavish copies. For example, the materials are modern, however seen from a distance they’ll simply go for the actual factor. The designers have gone all out, and when the entire ensemble strains up on the curtain calls you discover the women of their large panniers (the protruding hip pads that have been in vogue on the finish of the eighteenth century) and the lavish colors, which additionally function ‘a marker of standing and affiliation’. The King is in silver-white and his web page in white, Amelia and her servant put on yellow, the conspirators brown.
As to the storyline, historic details are sometimes distorted. There isn’t a proof that the actual Gustav had a love affair, so the motive for his assassination had nothing to do with jealousy however was strictly political, and Anckarström was not an in depth pal of the King (regardless that he was the one who fired the pistol). However an opera and not using a love affair was inconceivable and the grand love duet within the second act, at night time on the gallows hill, is the perfect music on this opera and arguably Verdi’s biggest love duet of all instances.
As is his ordinary behavior, Alexander Niclasson has created a taut drama that unavoidably results in the tragic finish. When it dawns upon Anckarström that his suspicions of Amelia’s unfaithfulness are unfounded, it’s too late. Gustav has time to elucidate his ambitions and forgive all concerned within the conspiracy earlier than he breathes his final sigh. In actuality he lived one other two weeks.
Of the 2 casts assembled for this yr’s manufacturing, I used to be solely capable of hear the primary, as a consequence of different commitments, however I do know that the corporate tries and succeeds in making them as evenly balanced as attainable, so readers who nonetheless haven’t made up their minds can relaxation assured that whichever solid they’ll see will probably be prime notch. There wasn’t a weak hyperlink within the one I noticed – actually all hyperlinks have been super-strong. Starting with the pit, it was populated by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, which is a assure for world class enjoying. And underneath the distinguished management of Italian maestro Lorenzo Coladonato (who graduated from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan) they delivered a Verdi studying that was each refined and sturdy. The refrain, consisting largely of extremely certified amateurs, have all the time impressed me significantly. Thirty singers gave the impression of double the quantity – not least because of the imposing basses – and the performing was additionally distinguished. Among the many soloists, the Golden Palm goes to Ukrainian soprano Kseniya Bakhritdinova-Kravchuk as Amelia. Having been a soloist on the Nationwide Opera of Ukraine in Kyiv since 2016 she has additionally appeared in plenty of European international locations, however at current she is a refugee in Sweden. Hers is a powerful lirico-spinto voice that rings out gloriously with dramatic depth but in addition expresses softer emotions with marvellous pianissimos. Her two arias have been masterly, and her touching ‘Morrò, ma prima in grazia’ can’t have left anybody within the viewers unmoved. She was simply as glorious within the scene on the gallows hill, which right here regarded extra like a Greek temple. Ardour flowed and Amelia nearly over-shadowed Gustav in vocal energy – however solely simply. She can also be a convincing actor, and her stage presence charmed the entire viewers.
Excellence of the identical calibre was proven by Latvian baritone Valdis Jansons as Anckarström. He has been seen and heard at Opera på Skäret earlier than. In 2015 he was Germont in La traviata and two years later he sang Rodrigo in Don Carlo, however sadly I noticed the opposite solid on each events. Now, in his third Verdi function, I used to be deeply impressed together with his dramatic performing and luxurious singing. His huge set piece, ‘Eri tu’, was formidable however skilfully nuanced and made Anckarström stand out as a three-dimensional character, not only a cardboard villain.
Italian tenor Paolo Lardizzone as Gustav had an agreeable voice and sang the love theme, ‘La rivedrà nell’estasi’ with lyrical glow and the required ‘ping’ up excessive. He was completely convincing in his essential aria and his dying scene was shifting. His web page, Oscar, must be a vigorous and charming teen with glittering coloratura, and younger Giulia Bolcato as Oscar was precisely that. Now that’s what I name stage presence!
The fortune teller Ulrica, considered a sorceress by some, guidelines in a world of darkness, and younger Norwegian mezzo-soprano Siv Misund’s darkish tones present a sense of witchcraft. She has each Amneris and Azucena on her CV, so she is well-equipped for Ulrica. Ribbing and Horn – Samuel and Tom within the Boston model, which for a few years was the one model that was performed – have been excellently sung and acted by Albin Ahl and Zaza Gagua, whereas Marcus Bartoletti – born in Stockholm despite his Italianate title – was a vigorous Cristiano.
There have been standing ovations, which appears to occur nearly in every single place lately, irrespective of how mediocre the efficiency. Right here they have been exceedingly well-deserved. Lovers of Verdi ought to make a pilgrimage to Opera på Skäret this August. However hurry, tickets are in brief provide.