Friday, September 4, 2020

The Theater King Of Sweden ~ Part 3 - The Opera

Giuseppe Verdi

The assassination of King Gustav III became an opera in the early 19th century. In 1857, using this first opera as a basis, a libretto by Antonio Somma for an opera called Gustavo III set to music by Guiseppe Verdi was presented to censors in Italy.  

Objections to presenting a king's assassination on stage were raised. Many changes were made, including what became the final one, where the setting was changed to Boston in colonial times. This was approved and the name of the opera was also changed to Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball). 

In recent years, some opera houses have presented A Masked Ball as it really happened with the assassination of Gustav III. 

The Stockholm Opera

And A Masked Ball has returned to the scene of the crime, the Royal Opera in Stockholm. Albeit not King Gustav's opera house, but a new one built in the 1890s and inaugurated by King Oscar II on September 19, 1898.

How I would have loved to see this opera there. Sitting up high, third balcony I believe it was, where I as a teenager often listened in awe to the great Swedish singers of the time. I particularly loved Verdi's operas. Rigoletto was my favorite. 

A final note of interest: On January 7, 1955, Marian Anderson sang the role of Ulrica in A Masked Ball and thus became the first African American artist to perform with the company at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City. 


  1. Well, I never knew that opera was in fact based on the assassination of a King. Amazing.

  2. Everyone should have an opportunity to see an opera. The spectacle of it stays with one forever.

  3. i find it very interesting that they would not allow the king to be killed on stage. i have never been to an opera but also have never been to a play except for one of my friends High school kids that were in Fiddler on the roof.

  4. What a dramatic change from the assignation of the King to a Boston in colonial times setting. What could be more far of field?

  5. I've never been to a live opera but used to watch a few on TV when the kids were young. A very sad ending to an opera but on the other hand, history has been put to drama.
    Stay well and safe.
    Hugs, Julia

  6. What a wonderful experience this would have been. I like seeing this picture of Verdi, too. I have not known what he looks like. Being killed on stage was a brave thing to perform.

  7. I've never been to an opera either. Just isn't my thing! Have been to many a play though.

  8. you have made me want to know more about the assassination of King Gustav now.
    this has been an interesting little series. all of history is so fascinating.
    and it was wonderful picturing a little teenage Inger... sitting in the 3rd balcony
    of the grand Opera House of Stockholm... absorbed by the glorious Verdi! BRAVA!

  9. Hi Inger - I never knew Verdi's opera was based on Gustav's murder ... but I know little about Opera either. Though I'll be looking out for more. I just looked up Verdi in Wiki - and was fascinated at the story ... and the caricatures!

    I hope you'll do more for us ... and yes I've been to a few (only a few) operas - but never really understood them ... perhaps I'll get to grips with them in the latter years of my life. I've been to Glyndebourne - my brother's a member and they go quite often ... it's beautiful.

    Take care and all the best - Hilary


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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