The Met's 1980 production of Un Ballo in Maschera is set in colonial Boston on the eve of the Revolutionary War. This is the setting Verdi chose after the censor's refusal to allow the opera to take place in Sweden. It was to have been based on a historical event, the assassination of Sweden's King Gustav III. History or not, having a king assassinated at a masked ball on the operatic stage was simply too controversial in 1859, and Verdi was forced to change the setting to Boston and the king to a governor! Ballo would be an outstanding work no matter where it were placed, as it has an rivetting story filled with growing tension set to some of Verdi's most beautiful music. Pavarotti is at the peak of his illustrious career as the Governor of Boston, and for that reason alone this DVD will be of great interest to opera fans. That is not to say that Pavarotti outshines the rest of the cast, for it made up of a fine constellation of stars. Katia Ricciarelli is inspired and truly gets into her character, Amelia. Louis Quilico has what must be one of the great performances of his career, and Judith Blegen shines in the travesti role as Oscar. Bianca Berini as Ulraca is somewhat lackluster, as her performance lacks fire and menace. That aside, this is a great performance of Ballo, and it would be difficult to top it. It is therefore a great shame that the picture quality is so poor, especially in the numerous night scenes. In the more dimly lit scenes the picture is often grainy and blurred to the point of distraction. This truly great performance deserved much, much better treatment. The sound quality is average, but fortunately it fares much better than the overall picture quality. In short, this is a diamond performance that should have been one of the all-time great opera performances captured on DVD but for serious short-comings on the technical end.