Opera Scotland

Ballo delle ingrate Il Ballo delle Ingrate; Dance of the Cruel Ladies; Heaven or Hell?


Claudio Monteverdi (born Cremona, 15 May 1567; died Venice, 29 November 1643).


Ottavio Rinuccini (1562-1621)





First performance: Mantua (Palazzo Ducale), 4 June 1608.

First UK  performance: to be confirmed.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Adam Room, George Hotel), 26 August 1968.

Scottish Opera première: As above.



The ribald libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini  is based on the perhaps unwarranted assumption that ladies who coldly refuse the advances of amorous gentlemen will pay for their cruelty by going to Hell. It was initially prepared as part of the celebrations of the wedding between the Mantuan Prince Francesco Gonzaga and Margherita of Savoy. As the title would suggest, it contains a substantial dance element.



Venus (mezzo-soprano)

Cupid, her son (soprano)

Pluto (bass)

A Lady (soprano)


Plot Summary

Cupid is upset that his arrows appear to have lost their effect. He complains to his mother, Venus, who takes him down to the Underworld to talk things over with Pluto. He has in his charge the shades of a number of ladies who rejected the attentions of their admirers. He summons them to give the audience evidence of their fate.

The Cast

 Pluto, Lord of the Underworld
Un' ingrata
 One of the cruel ladies
 Venus, goddess of love

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2018

Site by SiteBuddha