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The Metropolitan Opera Opens UN BALLO IN MASCHERA Today, 11/8

Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi will lead his first Met performances of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, in a new production by renowned opera director David Alden, beginning tonight, November 8.

The staging is the first of two new Verdi productions in the current Met season, which includes seven operas by the great composer in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birth. Marcelo Álvarezstars as King Gustavo III, with Sondra Radvanovsky in her Met role debut as Amelia Anckarström, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as her husband, the King's friend and advisor Count Anckarström. Kathleen Kim sings the role of the page Oscar, while Dolora Zajick and Stephanie Blythe alternate as Mme. Ulrica Arvidsson, the fortune-teller who foresees the king's downfall. Alden's design team includes three artists making their Met debuts: set designer Paul Steinberg, lighting designer Adam Silverman, and choreographer Maxine Braham. The costumes are designed by Brigitte Reiffenstuel. The Saturday, December 8 matinee performance of Un Ballo in Maschera will be transmitted worldwide as part of the Met's Live in HD series, which is now seen in more than 1,900 movie theaters in 64 countries around the world.

This production will be Luisi's first time leading Un Ballo in Maschera at the Met. Later this season, he conducts revivals of Verdi's Aida and Berlioz's Les Troyens, as well as three complete cycles of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. In previous Met seasons, he has led performances of Verdi's Don Carlo, Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto, and La Traviata, as well as Puccini's Turandot, Tosca, and La Bohème; Strauss's Die Ägyptische Helena, Elektra, and Ariadne auf Naxos; Mozart's Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro; Massenet's Manon; Berg's Lulu; and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. This season, he also conducts numerous productions at the Zurich Opera, where he is General Music Director: Janá?ek's Jen?fa, Tosca, Rigoletto, La Bohème, Bellini's La Straniera, and Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier.

Un Ballo in Maschera is Alden's first complete Met production; in the 1980s, he directed revivals of Berg's Wozzeck and Beethoven's Fidelio. His productions have been seen at many of the world's leading opera houses, including Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Washington National Opera; London's Royal Opera, Covent Garden and English National Opera; and Germany's Bavarian State Opera, Komische Oper Berlin, and Frankfurt Opera. This season, he also directs Britten's Billy Budd at English National Opera, Rossini's Maometto II at Santa Fe Opera, Wagner's Tannhäuser at Bavarian State Opera, Chabrier's L'Étoile at Frankfurt Opera, Britten's Peter Grimes at Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at Opera Canada.

Marcelo Álvarez makes his Met role debut as Gustavo. He has sung the role at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Teatro Real in Madrid, and Deutsche Oper Berlin, and will sing it later this season at La Scala. Gustavo is the fifth Verdi hero Álvarez has sung at the Met, after Alfredo in La Traviata (the role of his debut), the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Manrico in Il Trovatore, and Radamès in Aida. His other recent Met appearances include Cavaradossi in the new production premiere of Tosca, Don José in Bizet's Carmen, the Chevalier des Grieux in Manon, and Rodolfo in La Bohème.

Sondra Radvanovsky is also noted for her Verdi performances at the Met, where her past roles have included the title character in Aida, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Elisabeth de Valois in Don Carlo, Elvira in Ernani, Elena in I Vespri Siciliani, the title character in Luisa Miller, and Lina in Stiffelio. Her other Met appearances include the title role in Tosca, Roxane in Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, Rosalinde in Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. She sang Amelia at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2010 and will sing it later this season at Vienna State Opera and La Scala.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky made his Met role debut as Anckarström in the 2007-08 season and sang the role in 2009 at Deutsche Oper Berlin. His Met repertory includes five other Verdi roles: Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, Don Carlo in Ernani, the title character in Simon Boccanegra, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, and di Luna in Il Trovatore. His other Met appearances have included the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Valentin in Gounod's Faust, the title role in Don Giovanni, Prince Andrey in Prokofiev's War and Peace, Belcore in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore,and Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, the role of his debut.


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