Gustavo disturbs intruders in the Royal Box

Gustavo disturbs intruders in the Royal Box


norman lebrecht

February 28, 2017

Jonathan Sutherland recounts an unsettling incident last night in Stockholm:

The American tenor Leonardo Capalbo had an unnerving experience last night at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm.

He was singing Gustavo in a new production of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera directed by Tobias Theorell.  The important Act III Sc. 2  monologue ‘Forse la soglia attinse’ was sung from the Royal Box at proscenium stage-left instead of in front of the curtain or in a small part of the stage as is usually the case.

The Royal Box in Stockholm is accessible only to members of the Swedish royal family and is usually empty. To use the box in the staging, Theorell obtained the written permission of King Carl Gustav. 

Capalbo entered the box to sing the demanding scena and was startled to find two people dressed in black hiding in the corner, whether in search of a better seat or for more nefarious purposes.

He proceeded with the difficult recitative and coda, despite muffled talking by the two interlopers. The intruders were not visible to conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi or to most of the audience.

Memories of the fate of the real Gustavus III were obviously not far from Capalbo’s mind yet he managed to finish the emotionally draining scena to cheers and applause.

Before returning to the stage for the Festa da ballo e Coro, Capalbo informed stage management about the intruders but officials found the box empty.


Sounds like Stockholm needs a security upgrade.


  • Peter Freeman says:

    Sounds like they were good old-fashioned theatre ghosts.

  • Bette says:


  • Peter Freeman says:

    Haha! The imagination of a composer!

  • Ken says:

    Phantoms at the opera, of course…

  • Scott in PA says:

    He should have been accompanied by at least two house employees to make sure that he was not accosted in any way. Nothing can be taken for granted.

    • Nick says:

      Indeed a stage manager at least should also have been accompanying him, and perhaps even a member of the music staff. To send a soloist on his own into concealed parts of the auditorium area is wholly unprofessional.

  • DB says:

    So that’s what Trump tweeted about!

  • giulia tonelli says:

    I was there! And I didn’t see anything!!