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12/3/2012 3:01:00 PM
The Met: Live in HD -- Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera Dec. 8
This new production features Argentinian tenor Marcello Álvarez as the king, while the assassin Renato will be sung by Siberian barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
This new production features Argentinian tenor Marcello Álvarez as the king, while the assassin Renato will be sung by Siberian barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

The Met: Live in HD continues Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m., with Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece, Un Ballo in Maschera presented at the Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road.

This new production features Argentinian tenor Marcello Álvarez as the king, while the assassin Renato will be sung by Siberian barihunk Dmitri Hvorostovsky. American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sings the role ofAmelia, who is married to Renato but loves the king. Stephanie Blythe is the fortuneteller Ulrica, the role in which the legendary Marian Anderson made her only Met appearance, the first by an African American. Fabio Luisi conducts. A special feature of The Met: Live in HD is the on screen super-titles providing translations, and artist-to-artist interviews at intermission and pauses. The Sedona performance is made possible with support from Annette & Bryan Hubble.

The opera opens at the royal palace in Stockholm where courtiers await an audience with King Gustavo III, including a group of conspirators led by Counts Horn and Ribbing. The king enters. He notices the name of Amelia, wife of his secretary and friend, Count Anckarström, on the guest list for a masked ball, and thinks about his secret love for her. Left alone with Gustavo, Anckarström warns the king of a conspiracy against him, but Gustavo ignores the threat. The young page Oscar tells the king about the fortuneteller Madame Ulrica Arvidsson, who has been accused of witchcraft and is to be banished. Deciding to see for himself, the king arranges for his court to pay her an incognito visit.

In a building by the port, Madame Arvidsson invokes prophetic spirits and tells the sailor Cristiano that he will soon become wealthy and receive a promotion.

The king, who has arrived in disguise, slips money and papers into Cristiano's pockets. When the sailor discovers his good fortune, everybody praises Madame Arvidsson's abilities. Gustavo hides as she sends her visitors away to admit Amelia, who is tormented by her love for the king and asks for help.

Madame Arvidsson tells her that she must gather a magic herb after dark. When Amelia leaves, Gustavo decides to follow her that night. Oscar and members of the court enter, and the king asks Madame Arvidsson to read his palm. She tells him that he will die by the hand of a friend. Gustavo laughs at the prophecy and demands to know the name of the assassin.

Madame Arvidsson replies that it will be the first person that shakes his hand. When Anckarström rushes in Gustavo clasps his hand saying that the oracle has been disproved since Anckarström is his most loyal friend. Recognizing their king, the crowd cheers him as the conspirators grumble their discontent.

Act two opens that night where Amelia, who has followed Madame Arvidsson's advice to find the herb, expresses her hope that she will be freed of her love for the king. When Gustavo appears, she asks him to leave, but ultimately they admit their love for each other.

Amelia hides her face when Anckarström suddenly appears, warning the king that assassins are nearby. Gustavo makes Anckarström promise to escort the woman back to the city without lifting her veil, then escapes.

Finding Anckarström instead of their intended victim, the conspirators make ironic remarks about his veiled companion. When Amelia realizes that her husband will fight rather than break his promise to Gustavo, she drops her veil to save him.

The conspirators are amused and make fun of Anckarström for his embarrassing situation. Anckarström, shocked by the king's betrayal and his wife's seeming infidelity, asks Horn and Ribbing to come to his house the next morning.

Act III finds Anckarström in his apartment where he threatens to kill Amelia. She asks to see their young son before she dies.

After she has left, Anckarström declares that is it the king he should seek vengeance on, not Amelia. Horn and Ribbing arrive, and Anckarström tells them that he will join the conspirators.

The men decide to draw lots to determine who will kill the king, and Anckarström forces his wife to choose from the slips of paper. When his own name comes up he is overjoyed.

Oscar enters, bringing an invitation to the masked ball. As the assassins welcome this chance to execute their plan, Amelia decides to warn the king.

Gustavo, alone in his study, resolves to renounce his love and to send Amelia and Anckarström to Finland. Oscar brings an anonymous letter warning him of the murder plot, but the king refuses to be intimidated and leaves for the masquerade.

Two special features of the Sedona Met HD series include: a pre-opera "Curtain Raiser" talk from 9:45-10:25 a.m. in the main theater presented by Edward Ingraham; and gourmet opera lunches that must be ordered no later than noon Thursday before the opera. Tickets are $23 for reserved and $19 for general admission and may be purchased on line at www.SedonaMetInHD.org, at the door the day of the opera, or by calling 928-204-2415. Student tickets are $10 at the door with ID. The next Met HD performance is Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. with Verdi's masterpiece, Aida.

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