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Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Based on Victor Hugo's drama Le Roi S'Amuse
Place: Mantua, Italy
Time: Sixteenth century
Sung in Italian with projected English translations.
Running time is approximately 2 hours, 48 minutes.
Verdi's dark story of passion, vengeance, and murder in a sixteenth-century court is as heartbreaking as it is ironic. This captivating tale of a father's devotion, a daughter's innocence, and a duke's lechery is set to some of Verdi's most brilliant tunes.
Rigoletto is a court jester who pokes fun at the pitfalls of the courtiers, all for the amusement of the Duke, a notorious womanizer. The joke's on Rigoletto, however, when it turns out that his daughter Gilda might be the Duke's next target. When the jester pits himself against his master in an effort to protect his daughter's virtue, he inadvertently destroys all that is dear to him.
This deeply moving opera features many recognizable melodies and arias including the Duke's rousing aria, "La donna é mobile," the touching father-daughter duet between Rigoletto and Gilda, the famous Quartet, and Gilda's wistful "Caro nome," a vocal showpiece that has become famous as a favourite for coloratura sopranos.
Read the full synopsis here.
Offstage with Lauren Segal
Offstage with David Pomeroy
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OPERA MATTERS - Rigoletto
By 1850, Verdi was sought after by opera houses throughout Italy and, in that year, La Fenice (The Phoenix) in Venice commissioned a new opera from him. In searching for a subject, Verdi discovered Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse. For the libretto,he turned to Francesco Maria Piave, who had already collaborated with Verdi for five operas, including Macbeth.
Like most creative artists of the time, Verdi’s works were subject to censorship. In particular, censors expected that the monarch be depicted in a positive light. Therefore, the libertine and prostitute-loving Francis I of Hugo’s playbecame the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. And the Duke does not get murdered by the assassin his jester has hired. Rather, Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda is killed instead. (More...)