Giuseppe Verdi Rigoletto opera to libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed 2006 by Gilbert Deflo at the Zurich Opera House. Stars Leo Nucci (Rigoletto), Piotr Beczala (Duke), Elena Moşuc (Gilda), László Polgár (Sparafucile), Katharina Peetz (Maddalena), Kismara Pessatti (Giovanna), Rolf Haunstein (Monterone), Valeriy Murga (Marullo), Bogusław Bidziński (Borsa), Morgan Moody (Count Ceprano), Angela Kerrison (Countess Ceprano), Manuel Betancourt (Usher), and Martina Welschenbach. (Page to the Duchess). Dancers: Camilla Hoffmann, Megan Laehn, Julia Cheremeteff, Patricia Fässler, Eric Müller, Maurizio Tuozzo, Christian Altenburger, and Marc Meyer. Nello Santi conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Zurich Opera House (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger). Stage production by Aglaja Nicolet; set design by William Orlandi; lighting by Jürgen Hoffmann; choreography by Megan Laehn; directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Released 2008, disc features 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-
The Duke (Piotr Beczala) is a libertine who also has a fatal attraction to women:
Rigoletto (Leo Nucci) is a hunchback jester who is a favorite of the Duke:
There's an orgy going on, and it's interrupted by Count Monterone (Rolf Haunstein), who claims that his daughter has been dishonored by the Duke with encouragement from Rigoletto:
Monterone challenges the Duke and puts a curse on Rigoletto:
Rigoletto is shaken by the curse. He's also surprised on his way home by an encounter with a professional assassin named Sparafucile (László Polgár) who offers his services. H'm. If Rigoletto could have Monterone killed, would that dispel the curse?
Rigoletto's secret: he has a daughter, Gilda (Elena Moşuc), whom he keeps hidden in a kind of private cloister, where he hopes to protect her from the evils of the world:
But the Duke has found Gilda and attempts to seduce her while pretending to be a poor student:
Gilda is one of the most famous doomed opera heroines. Here she sings her great aria 'Caro nome' from a balcony:
Which ends with an ironic and prophetic promise to the student she loves:
Rigoletto's enemies at the court plan to kidnap, as a prank, the woman they believe to be his secret mistress:
The Duke knows that Gilda is Rigoletto's daughter. He's impressed by her beauty and says she is:
The courtiers kidnap Gilda and take her the Duke's palace. When the Duke realizes she is in his power, he dismisses any remaining thought of virtue! And Rigoletto is hot on Gilda's trail:
Next below, Rigoletto listens as Monterone is taken to be executed for challenging the Duke. Rigoletto knows Gilda is in the Duke's private quarters. Now Rigoletto has good reason to know how Monterone felt:
And now Rigoletto knows why fate introduced him to Sparafucile:
Rigoletto sets up a plot to prove to Gilda that the man she loves is evil. Gilda and her father watch the Duke seduce the street dancer Maddalena (Katharina Peetz). Maddalena is also the sister of Sparafucile; she often lures her brother's victims to places where they can be killed:
And next below we see the famous quartet. No room for subtitles here. For the first time in opera, Verdi composed four completely different parts to be sung simultaneously by (from your left to right) a baritone (Rigoletto), a soprano (Gilda), a contralto (Maddalena), and a tenor (the Duke):
Time for a killing. But you've probably already figured out that things will not turn out exactly as Rigoletto intended:
There's strong singing and acting by all in this, and the orchestra plays and sounds especially good. Each time I watch this I like it better, and now I'm grading it A-. There is another traditional A- Rigoletto from Teatro Regio di Parma available as a single title and included in the Tutto Verdi giant opera box. The Duke and Gilda in the Regio di Parmo version are prettier to look at; in subject title, the Duke and Gilda are perhaps better singers. And the Met has an updated Rigoletto that's graded A+ and is the best choice if you don't mind seeing Rigoletto set in Las Vegas. If you budget is tight, subject title may still be available at a super-low promotional price from Arthaus. (Shop around carefully; the vendors really have trouble when the same title is on the market at two different prices).
Special Note: There are two sets of ordering buttons below. The 1st set is to order this title at regular price. 2nd set of buttons is to take advantage of a special bargain discount Arthaus is offering with a bonus feature advertising many of their other HDVDs. You will want to buy the bargain disc if you can.