Review: Rigoletto @ SDH
Dubbed revolutionary at its premier, Rigoletto is so crammed with stupendous melodies, disgust and intrigue, it makes for a compelling evening. Along with Nabucco, it is one of Verdi's best operas. That much is known.
There have been marketing trickery jokes abound about there being nudity in this, and a poster detailing the wingspan of a golden eagle featured. Yet, it has always been a work of outrage, as it is clearly billed: "the masterpiece they tried to ban".
Based on Victor Hugo's scandalous play Le roi s'amuse (The King Amuses Himself), it's a saucy tale of the Duke of Mantua, who is in love with Gilda, the child of the court jester, Rigoletto. With scheming, debauchery and murder events lead to tragedy and an expected conclusion of karma meets sacrifice.
The moment the curtains open, you become overwhelmed in your attempts to take it all in. With the eagle, two royal greyhounds and naked courtesans, along with well-made period costumes, it was very hard to read the subtitles at the same time. The sets are lavish and also very practical for touring (this company goes all over, even to venues that don't normally stage opera).
Highlights of the evening include the chorus singing as the wind during the storm of the third act (a nice touch). Caro Nome (Dearest Name), Gilda's immensely sweet and floating aria is one of Verdi's best for the female voice. The ultra famous La Donna E Mobile is sung by the Duke in the last act. Though cynical and sexist, it is best remembered for its catchy melody, now being a staple of the tenor repertoire.
Vladimir Dragos is a very well-rounded Rigoletto, limping and mildly devilish in his plotting, but devoted to his daughter. He felt a touch flat in his delivery, but somehow made it through. Maria Tonia as Gilda gave a quiet, gesticulated portrayal, harking back to the traditional performance of the 19th century. Giorgio Meladze was perfect as the callous and sexy Duke. With a decent style of singing, he made a great, if fleeting presence on the stage. The rest of the cast also gave worthy operatic deliveries. This is not the best singing I've ever heard, though pleasing all the same.
If Ellen's operas are near a venue near you soon, why not have a think about going to the opera sometime?
Rating: 3 Stars
Ellen Kent's production tours around the UK, currently with Rigoletto, Madam Butterfly and La Traviata. Then Carmen, Tosca and Die Fledermaus.
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Photo Credits: SDH