Opera Australia is bringing back one of its most-loved productions this winter, Moshinsky’s classic interpretation of Verdi’s Rigoletto: ritzy, rough and bursting with colour, with characters that are unconventional, music that is unforgettable and a story that is as much about obsession as it is about love.
Director Elijah Moshinsky’s resplendent vision embraces the full glamour of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita with sumptuous costumes and an elaborate revolving set, as well as what has become known as OA’s famous scene-stealing car. Verdi’s lush music plays out against the backdrop of opulent interiors, designed by Michael Yeargan, with a chorus in sharp gangster suits and opulent evening gowns.
This season, legendary conductor Renato Palumbo returns to Sydney after his acclaimed performances with La Traviata in summer 2017, to lead a magnificent cast of local and international singers. Compelling Slovak baritone Dalibor Jenis brings his gripping stage presence to the role of Rigoletto, claiming yet another debut for his repertoire.
He is joined onstage by the magnificent Italian tenor Gianluca Terranova, returning to the role of Duke of Mantua to sing one of the most popular and recognisable arias in the world of opera – La donna è mobile; and the stunning Russian soprano Irina Lungu will be making her OA debut as Gilda.
They will be complemented by a selection of Australia’s finest singers including Mezzo Soprano Sian Pendry who recently played to great acclaim in the Melbourne season of Don Quichotte, Luke Gabbedy, Benjamin Rasheed, Gennadi Dubinsky, Christopher Hillier and Dominica Matthews to name just a few.
Rigoletto is a dark story of jealously and revenge, where secrets are weapons and loved ones are best kept hidden away. One of the most menacing characters to grace the Opera House stage, this Rigoletto is both compelling and repulsive in his accentuated makeup and loud-as-they-come jackets.
Giuseppe Verdi was one of the preeminent opera composers of the 19th century. Rigoletto was written while he was in his 30s, and is often grouped with Il trovatore and La traviata. The plot for Rigoletto was based on a play by Victor Hugo, which had been banned in France, so from the outset Verdi knew he would be battling the censors.
After many rewrites and negotiations, Verdi then had to thwart unauthorised copying by keeping rehearsals under tight control. The tenor was forbidden to even whistle La donna è mobile outside the rehearsal room! As predicted, the opening night at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice in 1851 was a huge success.
Within a year Rigoletto had been performed across Italy, and by 1855 it had premiered in London and New York. It remains one of the most performed operas in the world today.
Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 6 July – 24 August 2018
Information and Bookings: www.opera.org.au
Image: Opera Australia’s production of Rigoletto – photo by Jeff Busby