The Duke of Mantua Steals the Show

by C. I. Roman. 0 Comments

Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to see the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, a production that moved the work from sixteenth century Italy to Las Vegas of the 1960’s.

Rigoletto is a tragic opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Its story revolves around the decadent Duke of Mantua, his hunch-backed jester Rigoletto, and Rigoletto’s beautiful daughter Gilda. The opera’s original title, La maledizione (The Curse), refers to the curse placed on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a courtier whose daughter had been seduced by the Duke with Rigoletto’s encouragement. The curse comes to fruition when Gilda falls in love with the Duke and eventually sacrifices herself to save him from assassins hired by her father.

If there is such a thing as a singer’s opera, “Rigoletto” qualifies. With its inexhaustible stream of familiar arias, duets and larger ensemble numbers, culminating in the famous quartet. In musical terms, this production of Rigoletto is most successful.

When the handsome Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo bounds on stage in a white dinner jacket in his opening aria “Questa o quella” the audience is completely mesmerized by the pin point precision of his pure vocalism. “Questa o quella was elegantly executed with the air of a man that cultivates seduction. Mr. Grigolo uses artistic sensibilities to create a complex character that perfectly portrays the licentious Duke of Mantua. In “parmi veder le lagrime” Mr. Grigolo’s Duke reveals himself as a sensitive brute.

Lisette Oropesa as Gilda emerged as a budding star. Her sweet sound nicely conveyed her virginal character’s fragility and innocence in the lovely aria “Caro Nome.” George Gagnidze dark portrayal of Rigoletto, her vengeful father was interesting.

Although not my favorite, the opera is worth seeing if only to see Mr. Grigolo’s performance.


Carmen Ileana Román writes a regular column for

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