Opera Australia’s spring season in Melbourne opened with two masterpieces by Verdi in his bicentennial year. It was a decidedly rocky pairing.
La Fura dels Baus’s production of Un Ballo in Maschera was first seen in Sydney in January. La Fura is open about its intentions. Assistant director Valentina Carrasco told Time Out Melbourne that ‘it’s not a love story and we want to show that’. (Admirers of the great love duet in Act Two may find this surprising.) Politics are everywhere, and so are the masks. Director Àlex Ollé, writing in the program, refers to recent protest movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, and says that ‘the protester’s aim is to unmask the face of power’. Thus the usually benign and jovial Gustav III of Sweden becomes a boorish, neurotic despot.