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Royal Opera's Un ballo in maschera: limp, careless and scrappy

The libretto may not be great but Katharina Thoma’s new staging was a travesty

10 January 2015

9:00 AM

10 January 2015

9:00 AM

Un ballo in maschera

Royal Opera, in rep until 17 January

Whether by chance or bold design, the Royal Opera’s two Christmas shows were written at precisely the same moment, between 1857 and 1859, and both mark a high point of refinement in their respective traditions. Both Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Verdi’s Ballo in maschera sometimes give the impression of being entranced by their abstract musical fantasy; the drama on stage is suspended, drawn out, barely engaged with as the characters and audience peer down into the writhing or transfixed world being created in the orchestra pit.

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