Pieces: Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
Performers: Conductor: Marco Armiliato, Gilda: Lisette Oropesa, Maddalena: Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Duke of Mantua: Vittorio Grogolo, Rigoletto: George Gagnidze
Verdi’s opera, Rigoletto, was based on the play, “Le roi s’amuse” by Victor Hugo. The original play was about Frances I, a king of France who was basically a player and womanizer. Because of this, the play was banned after its first show. When Verdi chose this play he knew it was a risk that the opera might not be approved but went ahead with it and told his librettist, Francesco Piave, to find an influential person to get permission to use “Le roi s’amuse”. At the time, Austria controlled most of northern Italy and when they heard about Verdi’s opera, they considered it scandalous and refused to let it go on because it showed royalty in a bad light. After much arguing and negotiations, the opera was allowed to go on only after some changes were made. The king was now a duke from an extinct dukedom so no one could take offense and the names of the characters had to be changed.
The opera is about a jester, Rigoletto, who makes fun of the courtiers to make the duke laugh as that is his job. The duke is a womanizer who goes after any woman. In the opera, the duke seduces Rigoletto’s daughter and he vows to get revenge. However, his revenge backfires and his daughter ends up dead instead. Verdi’s Rigoletto is similar to Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The first act is in the style of comic opera so for that act at least, I am expecting mostly dialogue or recitatives and simple music. Because of all the drama and violence, I am expecting most of the music to be in minor key for the rest of the opera and many contrasting instruments playing loudly in some cases to show drama.
Budden, Julian. The Operas of Verdi. Vol. 1. New York: Praeger, 1973. Print.
Baldini, Gabriele, Fedele D’Amico, and Roger Parker. The Story of Giuseppe Verdi: Oberto to Un Ballo in Maschera. Cambrige: Cambridge University Publishing, 1980. Print.