A Father's Curse.
Considered one of Verdi’s breakthrough operas, Rigoletto stunned composers including Franz Liszt with its brilliance. But be warned: Behind the musical dazzle is a drama of political and sexual corruption so shocking that Victor Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse, the play on which it is based, was banned for 50 years after one performance. Making his Santa Fe Opera debut in the title role is baritone Quinn Kelsey, of whose London Rigoletto The Guardian said, “his boorish, tortured performance, together with a voice rich and secure from bottom to high top, is incomparable.” His daughter Gilda, the embodiment of innocence, is sung by soprano Georgia Jarman, a former apprentice who also makes her Company debut. Tenor Bruce Sledge, who received rave reviews as Paulo Erisso in Maometto II (2012) is playing the role of the lecherous Duke of Mantua. Director Lee Blakeley and designer Adrian Linford, who brought The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein to life in the 2013 season, create a new production of this Italian drama. The young Italian conductor Jader Bignamini makes his American debut.
For further insight into this production of Rigoletto, be sure to watch these interviews with the cast and creative team.
Composer Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist Francesco Maria Piave
Sung in Italian
At a ball in the ducal court of Mantua, the hunchbacked Rigoletto takes advantage of his fool’s license by ridiculing the courtiers cuckolded by the Duke. The Duke has his eyes set on the Countess Ceprano, but also reveals his desire for a beautiful young woman he has seen in church. Count Ceprano, Marullo and other noblemen have heard that Rigoletto is keeping a young mistress, and they begin to plot their revenge against him. Count Monterone appeals to the Duke for the return of his dishonored daughter, but is cruelly mocked by Rigoletto. Enraged, Monterone calls down a father's curse upon the jester.
In the street, Rigoletto encounters Sparafucile, a professional assassin. Having no need of his services, Rigoletto muses on their similarities: one killing with words, the other with weapons. Returning home, Rigoletto greets his daughter Gilda. Fearing for the girl’s safety, he warns the housekeeper, Giovanna, not to let anyone enter. When Rigoletto leaves, the Duke appears and bribes Giovanna to let him in. He declares his love for Gilda and tells her he is a poor student. The Duke’s entourage gathers nearby, intending to abduct Rigoletto’s “mistress.” The jester stumbles upon them, but the noblemen tell him that they are abducting the Countess Ceprano. They blindfold Rigoletto and he cheerily joins the party, unaware that he is aiding in his own daughter’s kidnapping. When he discovers that Gilda is gone, he recalls Monterone's curse and falls into despair.
The Duke is disturbed by Gilda’s disappearance until the courtiers describe their abduction of Rigoletto’s “mistress.” He is euphoric to discover that she has been brought to his palace and awaits him in his bedroom. Rigoletto arrives, singing in an attempt to disguise his anguish. The noblemen torment and mock the jester until he breaks down and reveals that Gilda is his daughter. Having lost her innocence, Gilda reappears and her father demands that the noblemen leave. As she tells him of the Duke’s seduction, Rigoletto swears revenge.
Rigoletto takes Gilda to the outskirts of town to an inn run by the assassin Sparafucile. Gilda is forced to witness the
Duke’s infidelities as he tries to seduce Sparafucile's sister, Maddalena. Rigoletto instructs Gilda to disguise herself in
men’s clothing and escape to Verona. He then enters the inn and arranges for Sparafucile to kill his master, the Duke. Infatuated with the nobleman herself, Maddalena begs her brother to spare the Duke and to instead murder Rigoletto. Sparafucile reluctantly agrees to kill the next person who walks through the door and present that body to Rigoletto in place of the Duke’s. Having just returned to the inn, Gilda overhears this exchange and decides to sacrifice her life for her love. Amidst a brewing storm, she enters the inn and falls prey to the deadly plan. Her body is put in a sack and given to Rigoletto. As he approaches the river, he hears the voice of the Duke in the distance. Believing it at first to be a ghost, he is horrified when he opens the sack and sees his dying daughter. Devastated, Rigoletto once again remembers Monterone’s curse.
- The Duke of Mantua - Ragnar Ulfung
- The Duke of Mantua - George Shirley
- Borsa - Howard Fried
- Count Ceprano - Michael Riley
- Countess Ceprano - Ruth Falcon
- Marullo - Leon Petrus
- Rigoletto - Chester Ludgin
- Count Monterone - Gimi Beni
- Gilda - Jeanette Scovotti
- Giovanna - Carolyn James
- A Page - Paula Page
- Court Usher - Robert Pappas
- Maddalena - Jean Kraft
- Conductor - John Crosby
- Director - Lotfi Mansouri
- Scenic Designer - John Wright Stevens
- Costume Designer - Henry Heymann