Starting this week, in London, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is doing one of the great baritone roles, in Un Ballo in Maschera. Eri tu, che machiavi is one of those show-stopping arias, when sung by an alpha baritone. It is a heart-breaking lament about a man who has just discovered that his beloved wife is in love with, and is probably having an affair with his best friend, who is also the leader of his country.
Once upon a time, I was able to see a production at the Met, which featured the late, great Luciano Pavarotti and the greatest barihunk of them all, Sherrill Milnes. I also saw the late Cornell MacNeil in the same roll. I think he was such an underrated baritone.
We don’t often get to compare the young voice with the mature one. This is a 2012 clip from the Met. Then, start with the aria, which, in 1989, was like the shot heard round the world. The full version is the last video.
There are various version of the opera. I have a very real problem with most productions. The only time frame where one could truly make a case for the survival of a man who assassinates a ‘despot’ and survives would be from about 1795-1820, making the costumes Empire or Regency.
We conclude with a recent performance, to date, of Hvorostovsky. Unfortunately, there is no video of the performance in 2013, in Rome. Compare the fully implemented power of one of opera’s greatest super-stars to the promise of the young man, back in 1989.