A MASKED BALL
Opera in 3 acts
Libretto by Antonio Somma
based on a scenario written by Eugene Scribe
Palace of Riccardo Warwick governor of Boston. Courtiers await an audience with Riccardo, including a group of conspirators who want to kill him. Riccardo’s confidant Renato warns him of a conspiracy, but Riccardo ignores the threat. The earl’s page Oscar gives him guest list for a masked ball. In the list Riccardo notices the name of Amelia, wife of his secretary and friend Renato and thinks about his secret love to her. A judge comes to the palace. He accuses fortune-teller Ulrica of witchcraft and asks Riccardo to sign the verdict. Riccardo decides to meet Ulrica incognito and asks his court to accompany him.
Near the ruins of an old tower Ulrica summons her magical powers. Disguised as a fisherman, Riccardo arrives. Servant of Amelia comes and asks Ulrica to receive his mistress. Having overheard servant’s words, Riccardo hides. Ulrica sends her visitors away because Amelia, who is tormented by her love to Riccardo, comes and asks for help. Ulrica tells her to go to the cemetery. At midnight she has to find and gather a magic herb among the tombs. Amelia is afraid but then agrees for she wishes to escape from forbidden love. When Amelia leaves, Riccardo decides to follow her as now he knows that she loves him. Members of the court enter, and Riccardo asks Ulrica to read his palm. She tells him that he will die soon.
– Who will be my assassin? – asks Riccardo.
– The man who will shake your hand first.
Riccardo offers his hand to those present but no one dare to shake it. Renato enters and shakes Riccardo’s hand in greeting. Everybody mock at the fortune-teller as Renato is his most loyal friend.
At midnight Amelia comes to the cemetery to pick up the herb that Ulrica told her. Suddenly Riccardo appears. He has been following Amelia all the time to protect her in case of danger. She asks him to leave, but ultimately they express their love for each other. Meanwhile enemies of the earl follow them and surround the cemetery. Unexpectedly, Renato arrives, and Amelia covers her face with veil before he can recognize her. Renato explains Riccardo that the assassins are nearby and his life is in danger. He persuades Riccardo to disappear immediately. They swap their cloaks. However Riccardo cannot leave Amelia. He makes Renato promise to escort the woman back to the city without lifting her veil, then escapes. Conspirators surround Renato and Amelia. Finding Renato instead of their intended victim, the conspirators make ironic remarks about his veiled companion. When Amelia realizes that her husband will prefer to fight rather than to break his promise to Riccardo, she drops her veil to save him. Renato is astonished seeing his wife in front of him. Renato, shocked by the earl’s betrayal, asks conspirators to come to his house the next morning.
Renato brings his wife home. Indignant and angry with Ameiia’s betrayal he wants to kill her. Amelia asks permission to bid farewell to her son before death. Renato relents and abandons his intention. Conspirators arrive, and Renato tells them that he will join the plot. The men decide to draw lots to determine who will kill the earl, and Renato forces his wife to choose from the slips of paper. When his own name comes up he is overjoyed.
Feeling remorse Riccardo resolves to renounce his love and to send Amelia and Renato to England. The order about Renato’s appointment is signed. Guests are gathering for a masked ball. Oscar brings an anonymous letter warning Riccardo of the murder plot. Amelia appears at the ball, she is looking for Riccardo. Having recognized him in the mask she repeats her warning and implores him to leave the ball. Refusing to leave, Riccardo declares his love one more time and tells her that he is sending her away with her husband.
– For the last time, farewell, Amelia, – the earl says sadly.
– Do accept my farewell too! – Renato exclaims and stabs Riccardo with his dagger.
The dying Riccardo forgives his murderer and admits that he loves Amelia but assures Renato that his wife is innocent. The crowd praises the earl’s goodness and generosity.