Brooklyn Repertory Opera
Scene 1: A public audience at Riccardo's palace, attended by his
supporters, but also by his enemies who hope for his downfall
Riccardo reviews the list of guests who will attend an upcoming masked
ball. He is elated to see on the list the name of the woman he loves -
Amelia, the wife of his friend and advisor, Renato.
When Renato arrives, he tries to warn Riccardo about the growing
conspiracy against him, but Riccardo refuses to listen to his words.
Next, Riccardo is presented with a complaint against a fortune-teller
named Ulrica, accused of witchcraft. A magistrate calls for her
banishment, but Oscar the page defends her. Riccardo resolves to investigate for himself
and tells the members of the court to disguise themselves and to meet
him at Ulrica's lodging later that day.
Scene 2: At Ulrica's dwelling
Ulrica summons her magical powers and
disguised as a fisherman, Riccardo arrives before
the others. He makes the fortune of a sailor named Silvano come true by
spiriting a document of promotion into his pouch, convincing the crowd
of the truth of Ulrica's powers. When he realizes that Amelia is coming
to see Ulrica, he hides and watches. Alone with Ulrica, Amelia confesses
that she is tormented by her love for Riccardo, and asks for a means to
bring peace to her heart. Ulrica tells her to gather a certain herb with
magical powers; Riccardo resolves to be there when she does so. Amelia
Now Riccardo presents himself again, along with all of the courtiers,
and asks to have his fortune told.
Ulrica reveals that he will be
killed by the next man who shakes his hand. He laughingly dismisses her
prophecy and offers his hand to the courtiers, who refuse to take it.
Renato arrives and shakes Riccardo's hand in greeting. Riccardo's true
identity is now revealed and he is acclaimed by the people.
On the outskirts of the town, at the gallows-place. Midnight
Amelia, conquering her fears, has come here alone to pick the herb of
which Ulrica told her.
She is surprised by Riccardo, who has come to meet
her. Now the two finally declare their love for each other.
Unexpectedly, Renato arrives, and Amelia covers her face with her veil
before he can recognize her. Renato explains to Riccardo that the
conspirators are pursuing him, and his life is in danger. Riccardo
leaves, making Renato promise to escort the veiled woman safely back to
town, not asking her identity. When the conspirators arrive, they
confront Renato; in the struggle, Amelia's veil drops. Renato assumes
that Amelia and Riccardo have been involved in an adulterous love
affair. He asks the two leaders of the conspiracy, Samuel and Tom, to
meet him the next day.
Scene 1: Renato's house
Renato has resolved to kill Amelia for the dishonor she has brought on
him. She protests her innocence and begs to see her son one last time.
Renato relents, and declares that it is Riccardo, not Amelia, who
deserves to die.
Samuel and Tom arrive, and Renato asks to join their plot, pledging the
life of his son as proof of his sincerity. They agree to draw lots to
decide who will kill Riccardo. Amelia is forced to draw the winning name
Oscar, the page, arrives with invitations to the masked ball; Samuel,
Tom and Renato agree that this is where the assassination will take
Scene 2: The ball
Riccardo, torn between love and duty, has resolved to renounce his love
for Amelia and send her and Renato away.
At the ball, Renato tries to learn from Oscar what costume Riccardo is
wearing. Oscar at first refuses to tell but finally answers: a black cloak and
a red ribbon. Riccardo manages to identify Amelia and tells her of the
decision he has made. As they say goodbye, Renato shots Riccardo.
The wounded Riccardo discloses that though he loved Amelia, she never broke
her marriage vows. He pardons all the conspirators, bidding farewell to
his friends and his country as he dies.
A Masked Ball