Rigoletto premiered in Venice in 1851. It was based on the play “The King Amuses Himself” by French novelist Victor Hugo, known for works such as Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you are familiar with Hugo’s work you will know that his stories often portray society’s outcasts as the strong powerful characters of the plot and this play was no exception.
When Verdi wanted to turn this play into an opera, censors at that time demanded that the King be changed to a Duke to try and soften the story’s revolutionary message against the monarchy.
Making her Glyndebourne debut in one of Verdi’s most exciting operas, Christiane Lutz brings a bold modern telling to this gritty timeless piece.
Set in the corrupt world of the Duke of Mantua (a Hollywood film director in this case!) – a man with great power, little morals and a complete womaniser. The action plumbs the depths of nastiness and the villain doesn’t get his comeuppance.
Unfortunately there is no avoiding the opera’s tragic finale which is terrifically sad with very little redemption.
Matteo Lippi’s portrayal of the Duke is powerful and charismatic, all the things you love to hate in a bad guy and his effortless tenor vocals match his characterisations to perfection.
Nikoloz Lagvilava makes his Glyndebourne debut as Rigoletto and his rich vocals are superb. I was slightly confused by such a different reimagining of this character who in this production is not Gildas’ father at all but Charlie Chaplin!
Vuvu Mpofu (also making her Glyndebourne debut) is the perfect Gilda and her beautiful rendition of one of Verdi’s arias “Caro Nome” was a highlight of the night.
The whole company should be given credit for portraying such an inventive retelling of this classic opera and it was wonderful to see so many opportunities being given to Glyndebourne chorus members.
Thomas Blunt conducts the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra bringing out all the charm and drama of the piece.
An enjoyable evening and a must see for Verdi fans who like a fresh perspective.
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