Swedes in Boston in New York

Prince William of Sweden in Boston 1927Image by Leslie Jones, Some rights reserved by Boston Public Library

I’ll be seeing Verdi‘s 1859 opera Un Ballo in Maschera at the Metropolitan tonight, so I thought I’d share a few ways for you to hear it in full from the comfort of your own home!  More free opera than you can handle after the cut…

I don’t know when YouTube started accepting monster-length videos, but suddenly there are full operas like totally casual.  Who does this and how legal it is I don’t know, but here’s a 2008 performance of Ballo from Madrid’s Teatro Real (link to Part II), currently half-way through a fascinatingly diverse operatic season.  Interesting opera company history: TR‘s current general director is Gerard Mortier, a big deal Euro who currently ailing New York City Opera briefly hired before he left because he was not pleased with the cultural budget in the US.  So now, any exciting things he does at Madrid, we New Yorkers know were originally meant for us : (

Anyway… another great Ballo option is Opera Today‘s streaming 1957 La Scala performance featuring a certain Maria Callas:

Callas as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera

Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, streaming performance from Opera Today

Now, you may be wondering why I chose a picture of Prince William of Sweden in Boston for this post.  As I mentioned, Ballo is about the 1792 assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden, and Prince William up there is his direct descendant.  HOWEVER!  Verdi had to move the action of Ballo out of Europe because of censors uncomfortable with the depiction of assassinations of royals in the theater, and for whatever reason he chose to set it in colonial Boston!  So there you go.

And hey, if its photography you’re after, Boston Public Library has a terrific Flickr account, and Leslie Jones, who worked for the Boston Herald from 1917 to 1956 and snapped the above pic, has a pretty great website of his own!  His archives were given to the BPL by his family in the 1970s, which is just the kind of thing I find absolutely adorable.

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