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RIGOLETTO ****** GIUSEPPE VERDI CAST: Duke of Mantua: Marcelo Alvarez Rigoletto: Paolo Gavanelli Gilda: Christine Schäfer Giovanna: Elizabeth Sikora Maddalena: Graciela Araya Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Conductor Edward Downes Director: David McVicar First of all I would like to mention that I will not be going into great detail about the vocal merits of this particular production here, for that you can surely turn to somebody who has more expertise in the field. Let me just emphasize the fact that the operatic competence and ability to perform has been sufficiently proven by all the members of the cast. Even if you are something of a connoisseur, I still think you should not be disappointed (at least not acoustically) while watching this particular version of the beloved classic. With that being said I must admit that this is a very daring production, which might not be to everybody’s taste. The first scene (the orgy) already contains partial nudity (topless maidens to be exact). Well, I don’t quite know how else to formulate it except that this staging might be considered rather explicit: it’s full of sexual content, as well as obscene and vivid gestures. The court is pictured in an extremely decadent light indeed. At times the imagery can even get a little vulgar. If you are somewhat squeamish or would like to enjoy this opera with your children, then I would probably advise against it as it does feature full frontal nudity and crude handling of women. It also depicts rape, both male and female (no graphic details of course, but still pretty disturbing). As operas go, this one unquestionably deserves the epithet “kinky”. Marcelo Alvarez as Duke of Mantua is definitely handsome enough to be convincing as a lecherous, macho playboy going after everything that does not run up the tree, a.k.a. a misogynist sex maniac. The fact that he would try to seduce a filthy, not greatly attractive Maddalena (as portrayed by Graciela Araya) right after “sampling” the beautiful and chaste Gilda shows just how very open-minded, ehem, that gentleman is. Christine Schäfer as Gilda looks young and attractive, which undoubtedly gives this production instant viewer credibility. Let’s be honest here, it really does appear more authentic when the singers’ physical attributes match, at least remotely, what we imagine to characters to be like. I don’t mean to sound in any way discriminating, but somehow it always seems more satisfying to me when the performers resemble the persona outlined in the opera libretto. No matter how beautiful the voice, sometimes it just gets a tad awkward when a large, 60-year old lady plays a frail and fresh-faced teenager… Paolo Gavanelli as Rigoletto is mocking, appalling and tender at the same time. I found the chemistry between him and Gilda truly superb, you can positively feel the love and emotion between father and daughter. The costumes presented in this spectacle appear to be fairly true to the style of the period: the wardrobe has not been modernized in any obvious way. Therefore we are confronted with a combination of a very modern, bold adaptation as well as some conservative elements in accordance with the opera’s original idea. The costumes also make the basic characteristics of this drama’s participants vivid: Gilda is wearing a white dress and a cross, symbolizing her innocence, the Duke, on the other hand, rocks some rich, opulent robes with a phallic touch in the form of a rather peculiar, oversized jockstrap. The set, however, is decorated in a more threadbare fashion, again we encounter a mixture of old-fashioned components and more contemporary objects along the lines of a metal wire fence for example. I suppose I would describe the approach to stage design as minimal and simplistic, all the better to concentrate on the magnificent music. Especially the quartet between Rigoletto (baritone), Gilda (soprano), the Duke of Mantua (tenor) and Maddalena (mezzo-soprano) creates an unforgettable impression. To sum up I would say that if you are not opposed to a little bit of stage exhibitionism, then I would genuinely recommend this production. It’s certainly an artistic treat and even though Rigoletto does not belong to my favorite operas, I still watched it with great pleasure. BUY ON AMAZON:
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RIGOLETTO ****** GIUSEPPE VERDI CAST: Duke of Mantua: Marcelo Alvarez Rigoletto: Paolo Gavanelli Gilda: Christine Schäfer Giovanna: Elizabeth Sikora Maddalena: Graciela Araya Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Conductor Edward Downes Director: David McVicar First of all I would like to mention that I will not be going into great detail about the vocal merits of this particular production here, for that you can surely turn to somebody who has more expertise in the field. Let me just emphasize the fact that the operatic competence and ability to perform has been sufficiently proven by all the members of the cast. Even if you are something of a connoisseur, I still think you should not be disappointed (at least not acoustically) while watching this particular version of the beloved classic. With that being said I must admit that this is a very daring production, which might not be to everybody’s taste. The first scene (the orgy) already contains partial nudity (topless maidens to be exact). Well, I don’t quite know how else to formulate it except that this staging might be considered rather explicit: it’s full of sexual content, as well as obscene and vivid gestures. The court is pictured in an extremely decadent light indeed. At times the imagery can even get a little vulgar. If you are somewhat squeamish or would like to enjoy this opera with your children, then I would probably advise against it as it does feature full frontal nudity and crude handling of women. It also depicts rape, both male and female (no graphic details of course, but still pretty disturbing). As operas go, this one unquestionably deserves the epithet “kinky”. Marcelo Alvarez as Duke of Mantua is definitely handsome enough to be convincing as a lecherous, macho playboy going after everything that does not run up the tree, a.k.a. a misogynist sex maniac. The fact that he would try to seduce a filthy, not greatly attractive Maddalena (as portrayed by Graciela Araya) right after “sampling” the beautiful and chaste Gilda shows just how very open-minded, ehem, that gentleman is. Christine Schäfer as Gilda looks young and attractive, which undoubtedly gives this production instant viewer credibility. Let’s be honest here, it really does appear more authentic when the singers’ physical attributes match, at least remotely, what we imagine to characters to be like. I don’t mean to sound in any way discriminating, but somehow it always seems more satisfying to me when the performers resemble the persona outlined in the opera libretto. No matter how beautiful the voice, sometimes it just gets a tad awkward when a large, 60-year old lady plays a frail and fresh-faced teenager… Paolo Gavanelli as Rigoletto is mocking, appalling and tender at the same time. I found the chemistry between him and Gilda truly superb, you can positively feel the love and emotion between father and daughter. The costumes presented in this spectacle appear to be fairly true to the style of the period: the wardrobe has not been modernized in any obvious way. Therefore we are confronted with a combination of a very modern, bold adaptation as well as some conservative elements in accordance with the opera’s original idea. The costumes also make the basic characteristics of this drama’s participants vivid: Gilda is wearing a white dress and a cross, symbolizing her innocence, the Duke, on the other hand, rocks some rich, opulent robes with a phallic touch in the form of a rather peculiar, oversized jockstrap. The set, however, is decorated in a more threadbare fashion, again we encounter a mixture of old-fashioned components and more contemporary objects along the lines of a metal wire fence for example. I suppose I would describe the approach to stage design as minimal and simplistic, all the better to concentrate on the magnificent music. Especially the quartet between Rigoletto (baritone), Gilda (soprano), the Duke of Mantua (tenor) and Maddalena (mezzo-soprano) creates an unforgettable impression. To sum up I would say that if you are not opposed to a little bit of stage exhibitionism, then I would genuinely recommend this production. It’s certainly an artistic treat and even though Rigoletto does not belong to my favorite operas, I still watched it with great pleasure. BUY ON AMAZON:
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