OA Rigoletto - photo by Jeff Busby AARIn an opera trifecta, the people’s baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat, award winning tenor Liparit Avetisyan and local rising star Stacey Alleaume come together to star in Elijah Moshinsky’s resplendent production of Verdi’s Rigoletto in Melbourne this May.

Making his Australian debut in the role of Rigoletto is booming Mongolian baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat. Mongolia’s first ever entrant to the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2015 where he was crowned the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize Winner, Enkhbat was named the Honoured Artist of Mongolia in 2010 at the age of 24 and has since performed in cities around the world including Paris, New York, Seoul and Kiev.

Joining Enkhbat onstage will be arguably one of the most exciting young singers performing today, remarkable Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan, in the role of the Duke of Mantua singing the classic aria La donna è mobile. Recipient of the 2017 Golden Mask Award (Russia’s highest theatre award) for best opera actor, Avetisyan made his Australian debut with OA in 2017 performing the role of Alfredo Germont in Moshinsky’s production of La Traviata.

Performing alongside them will be local Melbourne girl, Stacey Alleaume, making her role debut as Gilda. Known as opera’s rising star soprano, Alleaume’s career has been going from strength to strength, with this production marking her third principal role debut with Opera Australia within a year.

The trio will perform under the baton of Italian Maestro Andrea Licata – who worked with Opera Australia as recently as 2018, where his conducting of the Opera Australia Orchestra in Moshinsky’s production of La Traviata at Sydney Opera House received a standing ovation.

The classic production, by renowned director and Opera Australia Trophy recipient, Elijah Moshinsky, 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 Opera Australia’s famous scene-stealing car.

Moshinsky’s production is ritzy, rough and bursting with colour. Rigoletto is both compelling and repulsive in his accentuated makeup and bright jacket and Verdi’s lush music plays out against the backdrop of opulent interiors, with a chorus in sharp gangster suits and magnificent evening gowns, all designed by Michael Yeargan.

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 State Theatre 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.

With characters that are unconventional, music that is unforgettable and a story that is as much about obsession as it is about love, it is easy to see why this three-act opera is widely thought to be the first of the operatic masterpieces of Verdi’s mid-to-late career.

State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 11 May – June 2019
Information and Bookings: www.opera.org.au

Image: Opera Australia’s production of Rigoletto – photo by Jeff Busby