Tag Archives: Rigoletto

‘Rigoletto’ potpourri: a tale, trivia, and a magical performance

MOT's 'Rigoletto' opened May 14

Editor’s note: All month long, in honor of Verdi’s birthday, we will celebrate all things Verdi on Operatoonity.com. This Golden Operatoonity repost features my favorite Verdi opera “Rigoletto.”

Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto premiered in Venice, Italy in 1851. Based on a story by Victor Hugo, Rigoletto is a darkly tragic, gut-wrenching opera that ends in a senseless death. But at least for one performance at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden circa 1948, Rigoletto turned into a bit of a comedy:

English tenor Walter Midgley was playing the Duke.  During the aria “Questa o quella,”  a lively, upbeat piece, Midgley caught the end of his fake mustache in his mouth and gradually sucked in the entire thing, which eventually lodged itself in his windpipe. If losing his fake mustache wasn’t enough of distraction, at the end of the aria, Midgley managed to blow it out across the stage, into the orchestra pit, and right into the conductor’s face.

According to Bachtrack, the world’s best way to find live classical music, Rigoletto was one of the ten most performing operas in the world  in 2009-10.

Tenor David Lomeli singing the Duke in COC's 'Rigoletto'

Canadian Opera Company is doing Rigoletto this season with a first-rate cast.

In celebration of Rigoletto’s 160th anniversary, here is a link to “Questa o quella,” sans any extra slapstick comedy, from one of my favorite productions last season, Rigoletto a Mantova, as sung by the ever-appealing Italian tenor  Vittorio Grigolo.

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Filed under Microtales, Opera and humor, Premieres

listen up . . . a day at the opera on WRTI

Know why they call Philadelphia “The City of Brotherly Love“? Because WRTI (Temple University’s radio station) is playing opera tomorrow, brah, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during their Opera Extravaganza! on Saturday, November 20.

WRTI offers a  12-hour day of opera, featuring everyone’s favorite arias, choruses, and ballet excerpts, culminating in an unforgettable broadcast of Verdi’s Rigoletto at 1 pm, with Luciano Pavarotti and the late Dame Joan Sutherland, with Martti Talvela, Huguette Tourangeau, Riccardo Cassinelli, John Gibbs, Christian Du Plessis, Clifford Grant, Gillian Knight, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Josephte Clement, Sherrill Milnes, John Noble, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus conducted by Richard Bonynge.

You don’t need to live in Philly to enjoy a day at the opera. WRTI will be streaming live from their website at http://www.wrti.org/listenlive.html.

I can’t wait to hear what they have up their sleeve for opera aficionados. Makes me want to rise and shine. How about you?

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Filed under Opera broadcasts

If it’s Tuesday, ask Richard about ‘Rigoletto’ filmed in Mantua

Dear Richard,            

I’ve  been so excited about the live TV film transmission from Mantua of Giuseppe Verdi‘s  Rigoletto, even though most of us in the States haven’t yet viewed the complete production. I watched one of the trailers prior to the live transmission. It was fantastic, like a microcosm of everything  this production had to offer–vibrancy, relevancy, and such fresh potential–in the way that it filmed opera not as a static stage production but as if it were cinema. Shooting a stage production in the conventional way would have been child’s play compared to the ambitious treatment of Rigoletto a Manatova. So, why are people who claim to like opera picking at this production like it’s a Thanksgiving turkey carcass? This was a watershed production for opera appreciation in the 21st century. It is living, breathing musical drama, dramma per musica, that has the potential to reach new audiences. Why aren’t people who say they love opera supporting this?            

Upset in Upsala            

Dr. Richard Rohrer

 

Dear Upset,          

I understand and share your concern. After all, some of the most accomplished and influential talents in the world of opera are associated with this production such as Plácido Domingo, internationally acclaimed performer and WNO principal; Andrea Alderman, producer; Marco Bellocchio, director; Zubin Mehta, conductor; and dozens  more talented and accomplished artisans. As the Classical Iconoclast has said in a recent essay on the production, “[Rigoletto a Montova]  is significant because it shows the possibilities of film in expanding the potential of opera to communicate.”            

I observed some of the nitpicking you refer to, reading comments posted on various opera blogs: “Zubin Mehta thinks he’s conducting Mahler;” “Grigolo screamed his part,” and so on and so forth, when in fact the production was impressive and nothing short of inspiring, on the whole.  And the whole is supposed to be greater than a sum of parts where drama is concerned. And in this case, the parts served the whole–admirably–despite the myriad challenges of filming live while attempting to convey verisimilitude more so than theatricality. Instead of feeling like I was watching from a box seat, I felt as though I was in the room with the Duke or standing beside Rigoletto in the thunderstorm.      

Unfortunately, so many conventional opera companies are hurting–my opera house in Hankey included. By tearing down brave new ventures like “Rigoletto” a Mantova, many self-professed opera lovers/cognoscenti insinuate that they would rather see opera as we know it die on the vine than support live opera  that doesn’t meet their high, unreasonable performance expectations in every piddling way.            

What the  creative team did, filming Rigoletto on site in Mantua, live, was an incredibly daring and artistically brave  and challenging endeavor. In every way that is significant, they succeeded. Promise me, Upset in Upsala, not to bend to the nattering nabobs of negativism in the operasphere but continue to support those who take risks in order to make opera a more accessible and a more relevant art form. If you bend to the naysayers, in less than 20 years, we are all doomed to viewing nothing but long-ago filmed productions, the historic record of a once-beloved live art form.            

Optimistically yours for opera’s future audience,            

Dr. Richard Rohrer            

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Character from DEVILED BY DON, DEVILED BY DON, Rant

first 15 minutes of Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ a Mantova–squisito!

Rigoletto a Manatova--opening shot

During the past year, doing research for a novel with classic opera as a backdrop, I watched hours and hours of classic opera on film or tape. From the very first note of the live, simulcast ‘Rigoletto’ a Mantova (with its all-star cast including Plácido Domingo, Julia Novikova, Vittorio Grigolo, and Ruggero Raimando), you know you are in for something spectacular.  

Here are the first fifteen minutes of Verdi’s exquisite work (which adapts Victor Hugo’s gut-wrenching tale) via YouTube, and if you don’t adore opera, you will by the time you are finished watching this clip.  

Placido as Rigoletto

You’ll want to write home about the production values, the direction, the musical direction, the soloists, the orchestra, the conductor, the setting, the choral numbers, the cinematography, the costumes, the singing, the singing, the singing.   

Squisito!  

YouTube Preview Image

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Live opera performance, Performers

Grigolo!

Wow. Just watched a YouTube clip from the live broadcast of Rigoletto, the production being filmed in Mantua featuring, of course, Plácido Domingo, his Operalia winner Julia Novikova as Gilda, and Vittorio Grigolo as the Duke.

Yes, I expected to be wowed by Plácido. He’s so seasoned, charismatic–such a fine actor, too.

But I feel a little like the Duke upon seeing Gilda for the first time, or vice versa, and can only utter one word.

Grigolo.

He’s passionate, he’s beautiful, he’s got a little scruff of a beard, and when he sings, my middle-aged heart skips a beat. Can’t wait for his “La Donna è mobile.”  I think I’m in love with a duke.

Some say youth is wasted on the young. Not in this case, my friends.

YouTube Preview Image

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Classic Opera, Performers