A fine revival of Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabido’s 2008 production of Verdi’s “Ballo in Maschera” kicks off the 2012-13 season at the Staatsoper im Schiller Theater, presumably to help celebrate the maestro’s bicentennial. Wieler and Morabido’s staging is bafflingly set in the tacky ballroom of a hotel.The black bellhops and waiters seem to be some comment on race relations in America, since the original Boston setting is retained for this production. The staging itself is visually pleasing and conceptually thin, but the focus is thankfully placed squarely on the singers, who are very well directed in this revival. The singing is overall less impressive than the tremendous original cast, which included Piotr Beczala, Dalibor Jenis, Larissa Diadkova, Catherine Naglestad and a 24-year-old Anna Prohaska in one of her early successes (as Oscar), but the roster here assembled is uncommonly strong for a company revival. Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev makes a fine, lyrical Riccardo, terrible acting notwithstanding. Norma Fantini, a soprano noted for the Verdi heavies likes to ham it up as Amelia and occasionally loses control in her uppermost register. Alfredo Daza, the solid and somewhat dull house baritone is probably the weakest of the bunch as the vengeful Renato, although he warms up in the third act. Perhaps the loveliest surprise is hearing the alluring and young Moldovan soprano Valentina Nafornita as a very sexy Oscar. The Staatskapelle has a tendency to disappoint in routine revivals (especially if Barenboim’s not on hand), but here they do exciting, precise work for Massimo Zanetti, a frequent guest conductor with solid Verdi credentials. The chorus is also mostly well prepared and coordinated. Find out more about this production of Ballo in Maschera in the Opera Review Database.