Especially memorable on Thursday have been the understated eloquence of John Sharp’s cello solo throughout Amelia’s aria “Morrò, ma prima in grazia,” and the backbone — typically sturdy, typically shadowy — supplied by the timpanist David Herbert. “Ballo” is filled with simmering quiet, from which the complete orchestra was ready, repeatedly, to instantly explode with savage, Mutian precision.
The Chicago Symphony Chorus — ready by Donald Palumbo, right here for a stint after the tip of the season on the Metropolitan Opera, the place he’s the refrain grasp — sounded richly massed, and typically terrifyingly sturdy, however not turgid. Even forceful phrases didn’t lower off abruptly; consonants and vowels alike felt rounded and full.
Best among the many featured singers have been the mezzo-soprano Yulia Matochkina, commanding because the soothsayer Ulrica, and the soprano Damiana Mizzi, sprightly however silky because the web page Oscar, a uncommon Verdian trouser position. The baritone Luca Salsi was an articulate, sometimes gruff Renato. The tenor Francesco Meli — like Salsi, a Muti favourite — was brash and ringing as Riccardo; his generosity faltered solely sometimes on the very high of his vary.
When the accompaniment was spare and the vocal line floating, the soprano Joyce El-Khoury sang Amelia with soft-grained delicacy, although her tone narrowed as extra strain was positioned on it. With her sound brooding, she successfully projected her character’s pitifully unmitigated sorrow. But she and Meli have been pressed to their limits by the ecstatic finish of their Act II duet.
Singing the principle conspirators have been two proficient bass-baritones: Kevin Short and (particularly stable) Alfred Walker. The baritone Ricardo José Rivera; the clear, forthright tenor Lunga Eric Hallam; and the sweet-sounding tenor Aaron Short confirmed the care with which the orchestra forged even tiny roles.
But the star of the present was by no means unsure. This was not Muti’s ultimate efficiency in Chicago, not by a lengthy shot. There was nonetheless particular poignancy close to the tip, listening to — from the voice of a character named Riccardo, no much less — a dying farewell to “beloved America.”
Un Ballo in Maschera
Repeats Saturday and Tuesday at Symphony Center, Chicago; cso.org.