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Washington National Opera Opens 55th Season with Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera


Washington National Opera (WNO), under the leadership of General Director Plácido Domingo, opens its 55th season with Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) in eight performances, September 11 to 25 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Verdi's tale of forbidden love and murderous revenge is directed by James Robinson, and his production features a double cast led by acclaimed Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra as King Gustavus III. Un Ballo in Maschera is performed in Italian with English supertitles. See below for production information, performance dates, ticketing information and related events, including a masked ball at the Italian Embassy. Artist biographies may be found here or are available upon request.

A powerful story of love, revenge, and murder, Un Ballo in Maschera has all the elements of a classic Verdi opera with rich orchestrations and unforgettable, dramatic melodies. Based on the true story of the murder of 18th-century Swedish king Gustavus III, the opera tells of the king's forbidden love for his best friend Count Anckarström's wife, Amelia. After Anckarström discovers Gustavus' passion, he plots the king's murder for the night of the court's masked ball. The topic of regicide so incensed Neapolitan authorities that Verdi was forced to set his production in far-away Boston, Massachusetts, changing plot details and character names. Though many productions of Un Ballo in Maschera are still set in Boston, Mr. Robinson's lavish production, with its lush ball scene and period costumes and sets, is placed in the original setting of Sweden, with original Swedish character names, as Verdi intended.

Hailed as "one of the great tenors of today, equipped with intelligence, high notes, power and a feisty stage manner" (Bloomberg News), Salvatore Licitra (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m, 22, 25) returns to WNO to sing King Gustavus, a role for which he has won great acclaim. The Italian tenor last appeared in 2005's Tosca and in concert performances of Cavalleria Rusticana in 2008. Sharing the role with him is American tenor Frank Porretta (Sept. 16, 20) in his WNO debut.

In the role of the romantic, but conflicted Amelia are American soprano Tamara Wilson (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m) and Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin (Sept. 16, 20, 22, 25), both familiar to Washington audiences for successful performances in recent WNO productions. Praised for her "voice of steely beauty and great power" and dubbed "a bona fide Verdi soprano" (Houston Chronicle), Ms. Wilson earned acclaim for her portrayal of Alice Ford in WNO's Falstaff (2009). Ms. Theorin, who makes a role debut with Amelia, first appeared with WNO as Brünnhilde in Siegfried, and subsequently performed the role in Götterdämmerung-In Concert and Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos, all in 2009.

Rounding out the double cast are Italian baritone Luca Salsi (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m, 22, 25) and American baritone Timothy Mix (Sept. 16, 20) as Count Anckarström. American sopranos Micaëla Oeste (a former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist, Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m, 22, 25) and Monica Yunus (WNO debut-Sept. 16, 20) sing the "trouser role" of Oscar. Casting and dates are listed below.

In his company debut, Italian conductor Daniele Callegari will lead the WNO Orchestra and Chorus. James Robinson's production features sets by Allen Moyer, costumes by James Schuette, and lighting by Jeff Bruckerhoff.

COMPLETE PRODUCTION INFORMATION: Washington National Opera's Un Ballo in Maschera

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Antonio Somma
Production from Opera Colorado, in Italian with English supertitles

The running time for this production is approximately
2 hours and 50 minutes, including two 20-minute intermissions.

September 11, 7:00p.m.
September 14, 7:30 p.m.
September 16, 7:30 p.m.
September 17, 7:30 p.m.
September 19, 2:00 p.m.
September 20, 7:00 p.m.
September 22, 7:30 p.m.
September 25, 7:00 p.m.

ABOUT THE OPERA: When Count Anckarström discovers his friend King Gustavus III of Sweden's secret love for his wife, Amelia, he plots his murder for the night of the court's masked ball. Verdi's unforgettable melodies come to life in this opulent production starring Salvatore Licitra. Un Ballo in Maschera, September 11 to 25 at the Kennedy Center. Tickets range from $25 to $300 and are available through WNO Audience Services, 202.295.2400 or

· Season tickets are on sale now. Tickets for individual performances will go on sale August 2, and range from $25 to $300. Tickets are available through WNO Audience Services, 202.295.2400 or 800.US.OPERA, or online at
· WNO is committed to serving patrons with disabilities. Wheelchair accessible seating is available in all price categories for all operas. Contact Audience Services at 202.295.2400, email, or visit for more information.
· For information about specially priced tickets, available through Generation O (for patrons 18 to 35) and other programs, visit
· All performances of Washington National Opera's Un Ballo in Maschera are held in the Kennedy Center Opera House, located at 2700 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.
· Casting, program, schedules and pricing are subject to change without notice.

King Gustavus III (Riccardo)

Count Anckarström (Renato)



Mam'zelle Arvidson (Ulrica)

Count Ribbing (Samuel)

Count Horn (Tom)

Salvatore Licitra (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m, 22, 25)

Frank Porretta* (Sept. 16, 20)

Luca Salsi (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m, 22, 25)

Timothy Mix ( Sept. 16, 20)

Tamara Wilson (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m)

Iréne Theorin (Sept. 16, 20, 22, 25)

Micaëla Oeste± (Sept. 11, 14, 17, 19m, 22, 25)

Monica Yunus* (Sept. 16, 20)

Elena Manistina†

Kenneth Kellogg*

John Marcus Bindel

Production Team:
Conductor Daniele Callegari*

Director James Robinson*

Set Design Allen Moyer

Costume Design James Schuette*

Lighting Design Jeff Bruckerhoff

Original Lighting Duane Schuler
* Company Debut † Operalia ‡ Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist ± Former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist

Lead and featured roles listed above. For a complete cast list, visit

Un Ballo in Maschera-Related Programs and Events

Season Opening Night Gala-September 11, 2010, approx. 10:30 p.m.-Embassy of Italy

The Season Opening Night Gala celebrates the start of the 2010-11 season with dinner and dancing with the cast of Un Ballo in Maschera. Dinner tickets for the black-tie, "masked ball" start at $500, and proceeds directly support WNO productions and community outreach programs. For more information or to purchase gala packages, call WNO Special Events, 202.295.2437.

O-Zone Lecture: Un Ballo in Maschera-September 16, 2010, 6:15 p.m. - Kennedy Center Opera House

These free and educational pre-performance lectures by musicologist Saul Lilienstein provide insight into the inspiration behind your favorite operas. This event is free to all patrons presenting a ticket or ticket stub from any WNO performance of Un Ballo in Maschera.

Artist Q & A-September 19, 2010, post-performance-Kennedy Center Opera House

Following these Sunday matinee performances, join WNO's Christina Scheppelmann, Director of Artistic Operations, and select cast members for an opportunity to discuss Un Ballo in Maschera. This event is free to all patrons presenting a ticket or ticket stub from any WNO performance of Un Ballo in Maschera.

Founded in 1956, Washington National Opera is recognized as one of America's leading opera companies. Under the leadership of Plácido Domingo since 1996, WNO continues to build on its rich history by offering operas of the highest artistic quality, balancing popular grand opera with new and infrequently performed works. In addition, WNO fulfills its mission by serving as a vital resource throughout the DC metro area, bringing opera to a broad and diverse public through its award-winning education and community programs.

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