On Saturday 1st July at 9:00 pm Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto returns to the Arena di Verona stage for the 95th edition of the Opera Festival.
The first title of the 2017 Opera Festival, Rigoletto, is an opera deeply rooted precisely in the Verona area. For its “verist” vein, the opera belongs, along with the following Il Trovatore and La Traviata, to the “Popular Trilogy”, which introduces the bourgeois drama of the late 1800s.
The interpretation that director Ivo Guerra offers the audience remains true to the libretto and the score’s indications and is based on the first Arena performance of Rigoletto in 1928, as a tribute to the magnificent productions of the first opera festivals. The production is traditional, with elements of modernity, highlighted by both the scenery, mainly painted, by Raffaele Del Savio, which reproduces the city of Mantua in Renaissance times on the Arena steps, and the recherché sixteenth century costumes recreated by Carla Galleri.
Conductor Julian Kovatchev
Director Ivo Guerra
Set Designer Raffaele Del Savio
Costume Designer Carla Galleri
Director of Stage Design Giuseppe de Filippi Venezia
Chorus Master Vito Lombardi
Arena di Verona Orchestra, Chorus and Technical Team
I act 1h 5' - interval - II act 35' - interval - III act 40'
There is a party at the Ducal Palace in Mantua. The Duke confides to a courtier that he intends to seduce a girl whom he has seen in church and even followed her home afterwards. He is a young profligate, capable of anything, even to changing his identity in order to attain his aims. In the meantime, he is courting the Countess of Ceprano, thereby infuriating her husband who, in front of all the people present, is mocked by Rigoletto, the hunchback, court jester. The courtiers, convinced that Rigoletto has a lover, decide to take revenge and agree to meet to work out a plan. The dancing starts but the festive atmosphere is brusquely interrupted by the arrival of the old Count Monterone who accuses the Duke of having betrayed his daughter. Rigoletto mocks the old man. In his rage Monterone hurls an awful curse first, at the Duke and has him arrested and then, on Rigoletto who becomes afraid.
In the dead of night, Rigoletto returns home. He is thinking about Monterone’s curse when he bumps into Sparafucile, an assassin, who wants a job to do. Rigoletto says he will send for him if he needs him. On his own once more, Rigoletto meditates on his condition as a cripple but also as a cruel servant of power, forced to make the Duke laugh but surrounded by courtiers who hate him. He is aware of his physical and moral deformation. Yet, even he, is capable of loving. The only affection he feels is for his daughter who, since his wife’s death, he has kept hidden from the world.
Gilda runs to meet him and he greets her affectionately, but when she asks him for information about his family, Rigoletto clams up. He hides his true identity from her, forbids her to go out and meet anyone else. He entrusts her supervision to Giovanna, an unreliable person who lets the Duke into the courtyard of the house in exchange for money. It was the Duke who had approached Gilda in church and now, disguised as a poor student he declares his love for her. She is won over, filled with the joy of a young, inexperienced girl. When the Duke leaves, the courtiers arrive, masked, to kidnap Gilda, the girl they believe to be the jester’s lover. When they meet Rigoletto, they tell him they are going to kidnap a lady the Duke is very fond of. Rigoletto wants to join in the fun and he, too, puts on a mask. They lead in a circle and stop before his own house. While they abduct Gilda, blindfolding her, he even holds the ladder for them. All the while they make him believe it is Ceprano’s wife they want to kidnap from the building opposite. When the old man realizes he has been made fun of, it is already too late. His anguish over the curse culminates in a heart-rending scream.
The Duke is nervous and out of sorts: he has returned from Gilda’s house and learns about the kidnap. For someone who is a serial seducer, he seems almost sincere as his voice softens when thinking of the girl. The courtiers recount their nocturnal adventure. He learns that Gilda is being kept secretly in an adjoining room. He goes to her joyfully. Rigoletto enters, humming, feigning indifference, hoping to find Gilda. He is restless. When he realizes, however, that his daughter is in the next room with the Duke, he loses control. Infuriated, he throws himself at the door, shouting at the courtiers who try to hold him back. They insult him and threaten him. Crying, he begs to have her back. Gilda enters the room and she and her father embrace. The courtiers are astonished, and confused. Rigoletto urges those present to leave.
She confesses everything: meeting a young man disguised as a student in church, falling in love with him, the trauma of having learnt about love in a different way from what she had imagined. While Rigoletto is consoling her, Monterone passes by escorted by two guards, on his way to prison. He looks at the Duke’s face and observes with bitterness that the curse has had no effect.
Rigoletto cries that vengeance - on the Duke -will not long be delayed.
At night, Rigoletto arrives at Sparfucile’s inn on the banks of the Mincio with his daughter, dressed in man’s attire. He wants her to realize the unworthiness of the man she loves. The Duke arrives disguised as an officer, asks for a room and some wine and sings a love song to Maddalena, Sparafucile’s sister. The love skirmishes between the Duke and Maddalena intertwine with Gilda’s desperation and her father’s plan of revenge.
Rigoletto tells his daughter to leave for Verona where he will join her. He now bargains with Sparafucile to murder the Duke. A storm is coming. The Duke goes to bed and Maddalena seeks to convince her brother to spare the young man: he’s very handsome and she’s in love with him. Rigoletto departs, but unbeknown to everyone, Gilda returns and overhears the entire conversation. Maddalena insists and eggs her brother on to kill the hunchback, instead. Sparafucile refuses, after all, he has his professional ethic: never to betray guests. It would be better, he says, to kill some other regular customer. At this point the storm blows up. Gilda, who has heard everything decides impulsively to be killed herself, as a way of saving the Duke’s life along with her idealized love. She knocks on the door, enters and is shot dead. The storm dies down. At midnight, as agreed, Rigoletto reappears, settles his debt with Sparafucile and takes away the sack with the body in it, intending to throw it into the river.
He feels triumphant as he walks away, but then in the distance he hears the Duke, singing. Desperation now seizes him. He stops, opens the sack and a flash of lightning reveals Gilda’s face. The girl is still alive, but only just, and manages to explain her gesture, asking for her father’s forgiveness. The curse is complete.
DUKE OF MANTOVA
Gianluca Terranova (1, 27/7)
Francesco Demuro (6/7)
Arturo Chacón-Cruz (14, 19/7)
Amartuvshin Enkhbat (1, 6/7)
Carlos Álvarez (14, 19/7)
Leo Nucci (27/7)
Elena Mosuc (1/7)
Jessica Pratt (6/7)
Ekaterina Siurina (14, 19/07)
Jessica Nuccio (27/7)
SPARAFUCILE Andrea Mastroni
MADDALENA Anna Malavasi
GIOVANNA Alice Marini
COUNT OF MONTERONE Nicolò Ceriani
MARULLO Marco Camastra
MATTEO BORSA Francesco Pittari
COUNT OF CEPRANO Dario Giorgelè
COUNTESS OF CEPRANO Marina Ogii
A COURT USHER Omar Kamata
A PAGE Lara Lagni