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A special masked ball

A masked ball

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Rarely is a title so accurate to describe a situation. And is that the Teatro Real opens this strange and uncertain season 20/21 with 'A masked ball', in Verdi.

To enter the Theater you have to dedicate a little more time now. You cannot skip any of the steps in the new security liturgy against covid-19, which in this Theater is especially thorough. Everything perfectly organized to avoid any type of agglomeration and a caring room staff who gives all kinds of information and indications.

This season the Teatro Real is launching an initiative that has already been carried out in other European theaters with great success. It is a preview dedicated exclusively to young people. He 16 of September, two days before the official premiere, this stimulating premiere has taken place that has had an extraordinary response. A magnificent initiative highly celebrated by a young hobby who normally, either for reasons of capacity or because of the high price of the seats, he does not attend these shows as often as he would like.

We have spoken with some of these young people who have come to this first gala and have shared with us their points of view. Today they are the protagonists.

It is not the first time that Cristina has attended an opera. In fact, has worked as a makeup artist at the Theater. ”I think the initiative is very good, I like it a lot and if today, that I come alone, I like it, I'm going to bring all my friends. For € 35 I think it's amazing to be able to come and enjoy all this ".

Manuel and José Ignacio, are musicians who come for the first time to the Royal Theater from Seville and Aracena, Huelva. "Our expectations are very high. We have always liked Verdi's music and we come here with enthusiasm. The proposal of the Theater seems very interesting to us, especially for the approach of opera to young people. We generally cannot afford it and these are very reasonable prices.. We always had to settle for watching it online and now we are here. "

Gonzalo and Eduardo is the first time they come to the opera and they are a bit lost. "We come with desire, It is a new experience and I think we will like it. From the outside it looks very good. The first time, Let's see how!”.

Unlike the Traviata of July, this Ballo in Maschera is staged. Given the impossibility of moving David Alden's initially scheduled production to Madrid, the scenography by Gianmaria Aliverta has been chosen. The effort made to adapt this production, released in 2017 at the La Fenice Theater in Venice, to strict health protocols has been important. The staging is almost complete. Avoiding contact or closeness between the performers and in which only the dancers wear a mask, by the way, so discreet that it is barely visible.

The scenery is outdated and bland. All elements are very static, except for a big rock in the second act that spins (to Amelia's torment, who has to sing while climbing it). Nothing on stage provides the dynamism that singers fail to achieve., due to the necessary lack of movements. Nor do long changes of scenery during the performance help..

The dance corps choreography isn't very stimulating either, does not seem very elaborate. The fact of locating the work in the America of slavery is also puzzling., with an American flag with excessive presence, so gigantic.

But the absence of proximity between the singers, especially in the love duo, is offset by music. Master Luisotti describes it very well: "The experience of the opera is a personal experience. The possibility of closing our eyes and imagining what is happening is provided by music. In the love duo, even if i wasn't seeing it, I can imagine the embrace of the two lovers. " Verdi manages to transmit, through his music, the exact words to describe an action.

Un Ballo in maschera is undoubtedly the most Italian of Verdi's operas, and the baton of Nicola Luisotti, great connoisseur of this repertoire, makes it manifest throughout the entire representation. If one abandons oneself to music and the color and detail that Luisotti extracts from the orchestra, nothing that happens on stage alters the essence of the play.

We must recognize the great work developed by the set designer Massimo Checchetto and by the singers. It is not easy to function on a stage keeping your distance from everyone. What also affects, not only to interpretation, but to the projection without close references.

This Ballo in maschera has two casts and four Amelias. The representation of the young gala was in charge of a second cast headed by veteran Ramón Vargas, as Count Ricardo, that preserves the class and phrasing that made him one of the greatest tenors. The Madrilenian Saioa Hernández, as Amelia, who showed great sensitivity with the expressiveness of his voice. Geroge Petean, with a deep baritone voice that gave life to Ricardo's friend and later rival. Silvia Beltrami, who built a dark character of the sorceress Ulrica. Elena Sánchez Pereg, who played young Oscar, Take Babylon, as Silvano, Daniel Giulianini, as Samuel, Goderdzi Janelidze, as Tom and Jorge Rodríguez Norton.

The choir was assisted at all times by the technique to be able to keep the distances on mobile platforms.

A hopeful start to the season in the midst of this dystopian situation and full of uncertainty but, as Vargas Llosa recalled on opening night "Culture is made to face difficult times". That's why we are here, surrounded by young people ...

Text: Paloma Sanaz
pictures: Javier del Real
Videos: Teatro Real

Masked ball
  • The official opening of this season, the next 18 of September, will be preceded, for the first time, of a preview only for children under 35 years ─la Young Gala─ the 16 of September.
  • They offer 16 functions A masked ball with a maximum capacity of 75% of the localities and with the health security measures implemented in 27 representations La traviata last july, modified in accordance with the regulations recently approved by the Community of Madrid.
  • The stage manager Gianmaria Aliverta and the set designer Massimo Checchetto They have introduced important modifications in the original production of the Teatro de La Fenice in Venice to adapt it to the sanitary protocol of the Teatro Real, keeping intact its dramaturgical concept.
  • Nicola Luisotti, first guest musical director of the Teatro Real, will conduct his sixth Verdi title at the head of the Titulares Choir and Orchestra of the Teatro Real, after the enormous success obtained with Don Carlo Y La traviata in the past season.
  • Two deals (with four Amelia) they will alternate in the interpretation of the main roles: tenors Michael Fabiano and Ramón Vargas (Riccardo); the sopranos Anna Pirozzi, Session Hernández, María Pia Piscitelli and Sondra Radvanovsky (Amelia); baritones Artur Ruciński and George Petean (Renato); las mezzosopranos Daniela Barcellona y Silvia Beltrami (Ulrica) and the sopranos Elena Sancho Pereg and Isabella Gaudí (Oscar).
  • The premiere of Un masked ball, he 18 September at 20.00 hours, be broadcast live on screens installed in Plaza de Oriente and Plaza de Isabel, with limited capacity and in accordance with the regulations related to COVID 19 of the Community of Madrid.
  • Around A masked ball Parallel activities have been organized at the Teatro Real and in collaboration with the SGAE Foundation, Museum of Decorative Arts and Nebrija University, highlighting the session approaches, he 14 September at 20.15 hours, with a capacity of 75% of face-to-face locations and retransmission, for the first time, at Youtube channel of the Royal Theater.
  • Functions A masked ballare sponsored by Telefónica.

  • The live broadcast of the opera on the outdoor screens is sponsored by Telefónica, Endesa, State Lotteries, Mutua Madrileña, Redexis Foundation and EDP Foundation.
  • The Young Gala will have the collaboration of the professional services firm EY.

The Royal Theater will inaugurate the Season 2020-2021 ─the 24th since its reopening─, with A masked ball, from Giuseppe Verdi, which will be offered in a production from the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and responded in collaboration with the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville.

The libretto of the opera, something outdated for the time, part of a previous one, from Agustin Eugène Scribe, Tangentially inspired by the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden during a masked ball at the Stockholm Opera, victim of a conspiracy. Successive problems with Roman and Neapolitan censorship forced the librettist Antonio Somma to move the political background of the Swedish court opera to Boston, at the end of the XVII, then under british rule.

The stage manager Gianmaria Aliverta maintains the plot of the opera in America, but move the action to the nineteenth century, when violent fratricidal struggles faced the states of the North and South, who resisted abolishing slavery and losing other abusive prerogatives ascribed to the owners of large estates.

In this context of confrontations, the political tension underlying the libretto is emphasized., what's wrong with it, spotlight, a dismal love triangle, in which the vicissitudes of the protagonists are musically described with Verdi's sharp dramatic sense and his inexhaustible melodic inspiration. The composer intertwines arias, duos and choral scenes in blocks that make up large frames, articulating drama and comedy with extreme skill, ensemble numbers and intimate moments, the palace bustle and the inner drama of the characters, always keeping the tension in "the most melodramatic of melodramas", in the words of Gabrielle D’Annunzio.

Nicola Luisotti, first guest conductor of the Teatro Real, will be in front of the departments of great verdean voces, in which the female lead role (Amelia), will be performed by four different sopranos: Anna Pirozzi, Session Hernández, María Pia Piscitelli Y Sondra Radvanovsky. The tenors complete the cast Michael Fabiano Y Ramón Vargas (Riccardo); baritones Artur Ruciński and George Petean (Renato), the mezzosopranos Daniela Barcellona Y Silvia Beltrami (Ulrica) and sopranos Elena Sancho Pereg e Isabella Gaudí (Oscar).

As with the functions of the La traviata, the soloists, choir, actors and theater workers will rigorously comply with the Health Security Protocol designed by the Teatro Real Medical Committee, in accordance with the guidelines of the Community of Madrid.

The premiere of A masked ball, he 18 of September, be broadcast live on screens installed in the Plaza de Oriente and, for the first time, in the Plaza de Isabel II, where will they be placed 450 chairs separated from each other by 2 m., in a limited area of 4000 m2 with 320 m. of security fencing and 8 Entrances and exits duly signposted and equipped with hydrogel.


Telefónica, main technological patron of the Teatro Real, drives its digital development and the best connectivity to optimize the experience of opera fans on all the digital channels of the Theater. In these years, Telefónica has expanded the number of functionalities and services on the web, reinforcing the interactive and communication with users. In this way, It has allowed the creation of a much broader catalog of products - encompassing different types of music- and accessible, with services more adjusted to the preferences of the followers of this institution. A further step within this global project has been My Opera Player, digital platform that allows opera lovers, dance and classical music enjoy from home, with just a click, of the best internationally successful productions.

MyOperaPlayer, , has Telefónica, as a technological partner of the Teatro Real, and with the sponsorship of Endesa, who supported this initiative as sole sponsor when the platform was called Palco Digital.


11 of September, to 20.15 hours | Teatro Real, Sala Gayarre

approaches: meeting with Nicola Luisotti and Gianmaria Aliverta - musical and stage directors of A masked ball- and Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Teatro Real. Interpretation of arias from operas by Mercadante and Auber based on the libretto by Eugene Scribe.

18 of September, to 20.00 hours | Broadcast in the Plaza de Oriente and Plaza de Ópera

Live broadcast of A masked ball on the screens located in Plaza de Oriente and Plaza de Isabel II.

8 October, 19:00 h. | Nebrija University

Streaming conference: first of four conferences of the cycle Opera baskets, that throughout the entire season of the Teatro Real wants to delve into the fascinating world of fashion through opera.

Free activity upon registration in actos.nebrija.es

11 October, to 12.00 hours | Teatro Real, Living room

Chamber Sundays I: the Soloists of the Titular Orchestra of the Royal Theater will offer a concert with affinities with the opera A masked ball.

18 October, to 12.00 and to the 17.00 hours | Teatro Real, Sala Gayarre

All the Gayarre: music workshops for the whole family, direction and presentation of Fernando Palacios.

A dance with suspense. We sneak in with a page at a costume ball.

Saturdays and Sundays from October to December | Museum of Decorative Arts

Travels in family: under the title A masked ball, Classic myths the museum offers self-guided itineraries to discover as a family the multitude of heroes of classical mythology that hide in its rooms. Heroes that on many occasions the mask of time has turned into anonymous figures and of whom we will now be able to know their name and history. Free activity upon registration in difusion.mnad@cultura.gob.es

Photograph: Javier del Real


La Traviata, “back to life”
La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Opera in three acts
Libreto de Francesco Maria Piave, based on the novel and the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas Jr.
Premiered at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 6 March 1853 and the the Teatro Real the 1 February 1855. Opera in semi-staged concert version
D. musical: Nicola Luisotti
Scenic concept: Leo Castaldi
Lighting: Carlos Torrijos
D. Choir: Andrés Máspero
Distribution: Marina Rebeka, Michael Fabiano, Artur Ruciński, Sandra Fernández, Marifé Nogales, Albert Casals, Isaac Galan, Tomeu Bibiloni, Stefano Palatchi, Emmanuel Faraldo, Elier Muñoz and Carlos García
It had been four months since everything was suspended. At first it seemed like it would be for a short time, but as the weeks and events passed, uncertainty came to occupy everything.
In this period there has been time to think about many things. Also that only a miracle would bring me back to this chair. But miracles exist, and we make them. In this case, Royal Theatre. And a miracle has worked that covers various aspects. First, have the courage and determination to return to operatic activity in the safest way, and the second, and no less important, have the ability to demonstrate that, difficult as the circumstances are, good management can be done, even, very good.The bet is risky, keep this fragile balance when the entire operatic world is watching, is not easy. For a full month, in which the representations have been multiplied to compensate for the limited capacity, this stage adaptation by Leo Castaldi is presented, like who says, with four little things that he has found by the theater, to create a scenery that could not be more effective. In it the essential elements appear, nothing is missing or nothing. A parceled stage delimits the two square meters that each singer has to move. A small space, but in which all the emotions of the protagonists fit. The chorus, occupying the back half of the stage box, remain disciplined in seclusion, each one of them, on his ground, which does not detract one iota from its sound and professionalism. All this illuminated with great success by Carlos Torrijos It was not easy to immerse yourself in history in an environment so different from the one we are used to. Too many elements distract us in the room, on the stage, distance, the mask ... But then, he appeared, Like a hero without a cape to rescue us from silence, Nicola Luisotti. One of the men who must be working the most in the last weeks and who was exultantly happy with this challenge, perhaps for having lived through the dramatic circumstances that have touched us with the intensity that only a passionate person like him has. He was the first to suspend the premiere of Il Trovatore at the Scala in Milan and is now the first to raise the curtain on what he calls "ritorno alla vita". It was then that one of the most elaborately romantic and evocative that have been written, the opening of the first act of La Traviata. The orchestra, which occupies the entire space of the pit, also appears with their masks, except for the wind, which is separated by a screen, like Luisotti himself. The Italian teacher was the perfect link between what was happening on the remote stage and the wide moat, generating confidence and balance in this strange new way of interpreting. After a deep overture, sober and heartfelt, for whom is a great connoisseur of this repertoire, he knew how to transmit to the stage the theatricality he lacked. His direction was above some more muted sounds caused by physical and technical distances. The orchestra sounded muffled and with the delicacy that some sometimes abandon when it comes to Verdi.The distance at which the singers were kept was not disturbing. Always attentive to the teacher who accompanied them, more than directed. Despite not approaching or touching, Violetta and Alfredo were able to demonstrate their passion.The Latvian Marina Rebeka is the first of five sopranos who address the character of Violetta Valéry. Has an extensive and voluminous lyrical soprano voice, a beautiful timbre and great sound that was appreciated very well in the most dramatic parts and in well-delineated pianos. Maybe too contained, which affected the most theatrical part of the character, something very important in this role that Rebeka is very knowledgeable and loving. If I let the character take over her, coupled with his exceptional technique, would be the best of the Violets.The Alfredo by Michael Fabiano went from less to more. He had moments of great inspiration, although it was noticed a little insecure at the beginning, something that may be normal under the circumstances, and that it disappeared from the second and third act, In which he shone with an inspired and intense Alfredo, the most applauded of the night was Artur Rucinski and his Giorgio Germont.. A good diction and elegant and very careful phrasing for your stretched Germont. Very well at Di Provence.

The rest of the tablets were at high altitude. Great participation Marifé Nogales in her role as Annina. Also perfect Sandra Fernández, with a frivolous Flora Bervoix, both are involved in all functions. Like Albert Casals, as Gastone, Isaac Galan, like Baron Douphol, Tomeu Bibiloni, as Marquis de Obigny, Stefano Palatchi, like Doctor Grenvil and Emmanuel Faraldo, as Giuseppe and Violetta's servant.

A success without a doubt of the Royal Theater showing great courage and ability. All this served with a security that can be felt. If a major outbreak occurs, I'm going to the Royal Theater. And is that normality does not come alone, you have to conquer it.
Text: Paloma Sanz
pictures: Javier del Real
Videos: Teatro Real


The jury of the Opera XXI Awards, convened by the Association of Theaters, Estables festivals and opera seasons in Spain, He has released yesterday the names of the winners of the second edition, in which the work is recognized artists, professionals and institutions in the world of opera throughout the season 2018-2019.

The Royal Theater has been recognized in two categories: Best Musical Direction for Nicola Luisotti, for his work in opera Turandot, Giacomo Puccini, whose premiere took place on 30 November 2018, Y Best Stage Direction for Cristof Loy, whose vision Capriccio He received unanimous praise from national and international critics placing it among the best productions of the year.

They have also been recognized for his work soprano Sondra Radvanovsky; Award for Best Singer; soprano Leonor Bonilla, Best Young Singer, who he was also part of the cast of Capriccio at the Royal Theater[u1] and had an outstanding participation in Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti who opened the season of the Teatro de la Maestranza, and Best New Production is for him Teatro de la Zarzuela by Spanish opera The House of Bernarda Alba by Miquel Ortega.

The Best Lyric Promotion Initiative Award has been for Pocket Opera and New Creation, in recognition of his work at the premiere, in March 2019, Opera I'm narcissistic, with music by Raquel Garcia-Thomas and libretto by Helena Tornero, a mounting Marta Pazos with musical direction by Vinicius Kattah, in co-production with Teatro Real from Madrid, the Spanish Theater and the Teatre Lliure.

Best New Production Latinoamericana is for Gran Teatro de Lima by Alzira, in Verdi, co-produced by the Ministry of Culture of Peru with ABAO (Bilbao Association of Friends of the Opera) and the Royal Opera de Wallonie (Liége, Belgium).

The jury of the second edition of the Opera XXI Awards is composed of journalists Eva Sandoval (RNE, Classical Radio), Jesus Ruiz Mantilla (The country), Maricel Chavarría (The vanguard), Gonzalo Alonso (The reason), José Luis Jiménez (ABC); by critic and co-director of the journal Platea Magazine, Alejandro Martínez, and the director of the magazine Opera Actual, Without Fernando River, and international critics Richard Martet (Opera Magazine) and Victoria Stapells (Opera Magazine UK), in addition to Andrés Rodríguez (Vice President of OLA, opera Latin America). They are experts of recognized national and international prestige and a deep knowledge of the current national lyrical activity. Also present in the discussions Oriol Aguilà, Opera XXI president and director of the Festival Castell de Peralada; José Monforte, Association secretary and general manager of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (Valencia), and Nieves Pascual, Coordinator awards.

Tratro Real