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Rigoletto (Highlights)Melodrama in 3 Acts
Libretto: Francesco Maria PiaveDuke of Mantua
- Yordy Ramiro, tenor Rigoletto, a court jester
- Eduard Tumagian, baritone Gilda, his daughter
- Alida Ferrarini, soprano Sparafucile, a hired assessin
- Jozef pacek, baritone Maddalena, his sister
- Jitka Saparova, contralto Giovanna, Gilda's nurse
- Alzbeta Michalkova, contralto Marullo
- Peter Subert, tenor Borsa Matteo
- Jozef Abel, tenor Court Ceprano
- Robert Szucs, tenor
Courtiers - Ladies - Pages - Halberdiers
The scene is set in the city of Mantua and its environs. The period is the 16th Century.
Slovak Philharmonic Chorus
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Alexander Rahbari, conductor Giuseppe Verdi's career spans three quarters ofthe nineteenth century. He was born in 1813 at Le Roncole, near Busseto, theson of a tavern-keeper, and distinguished himself locally in music. The encouragementand patronage of his future father-in-law, Antonio Barezzi, a merchant inBusseto, allowed him further study in Milan, before returning to Busseto as maestrodi musica
His first venture into opera, a reasonably successfulone, was in 1839 with Oberto.
This was followed, however, by the failureof Un giomo di regno,
written at a period when the composer suffered thedeath of his wife and two children. His early reputation was established by theopera Nabucco,
staged at La Scala in Milan in 1842.
Verdi's subsequent career in Italy was to bring him unrivalled fame, augmented by his reputation as a patriot andfervent supporter of Italian national unity. His name itself was treated as anacronym for the proposed monarch of a united Italy,
'Vittorio Emanuele R?¿d'Italia',
and much of his work in the period of unification wassusceptible to patriotic interpretation. His long association with the singerGiuseppina Strepponi led to their marriage in 1859, the year of Un ballo inmaschera.
He completed his last opera, Falstaff,
in 1893, four yearsbefore her death, but felt himself unequal to further Shakespearian operas thatwere then proposed. He died while staying in Milan, early in 1901, his deaththe subject of national mourning throughout Italy.
The opera Rigoletto
was first staged atLa Fenice in Venice on 11 March, 1851. A year earlier Verdi had expressed hisdelight with Victor Hugo's play Le roi s'amuse,
finding in Triboulet,the central character, a creation worthy of Shakespeare. He urged his librettistFrancesco Maria Piave, poet and stage manager of La Fenice, to secure theapproval of the censors as soon as possible. Piave did as Verdi suggested, butwhatever verbal approval he had from the censors was denied when it came to thepoint. The operatic version of Le roi s'amuse
under the title Lamaledizione
(The Curse) was stimatized as immoral and obscene. Theobscenity lay chiefly in the fact that the plot deals with the unscrupulousactivities of a profligate king.
Piave's first suggested changes did not pleaseVerdi. The King, Francis I, was to be a mere nobleman, the Duke of Ventignano,and there was to be no plot to kill him, while the murdered Gilda's body wasnot to be concealed in a sack: Triboletto, the original of Rigoletto, the courtjester, was not to be an ugly hunchback. Negotiation with the censors followed,and something of Victor Hugo was restored. The villain was to be VincenzoGonzaga, Duke of Mantua, referred to only as the Duke of Mantua, the deformityof the jester was permitted and there was no longer any objection to the sack.
Censorship had caused delay and frustration, but by the end of December 1850the matter was near enough to a settlement to allow Verdi to proceed with thecomposition in time for the carnival season.
Verdi had not only been angered by the censorsand consequently impatient with Piave. He had also had serious reservationsabout the proposed prima donna
, Signora Sanchioli, known, Verdisuggested, for her Michelangelesque poses. The final cast had Teresa Brambiliaas the first Gilda, a 38-year-old singer, one of seven sisters well known onthe operatic stage. The French-Italian baritone Felice Varesi, who had createdthe Verdian r??le of Macbeth, was the first Rigoletto, and the part of the Dukewas taken by the tenor Raffaele Mirati. Varesi's daughter later recalled herfather's doubts about the possible reaction of the audience to his appearanceas a hunchbacked buffoon and how Verdi pushed him onto the stage at the firstperformance, causing him to stumble, but at the same time impressing theaudience, enraptured by such a dramatically appropriate entrance.
, as the opera was now known, was an immediatesuccess with the public, and was received equally well in Paris, where evenVictor Hugo approved, and in 1853 in London. In Rome the censors had theirrevenge, and Rigoletto
now became Viscardello
, a title and operathat Verdi disowned.
The opera, set at the ducal court in 16thcentury Mantua, opens, after the Overture [Track 1], with a scene in which theDuke has his heart set on the seduction of the wife of Count Ceprano. In a Ballata
 he explains how all beauties are the same to him and he has no intentionof tying himself to a single one. Rigoletto, the hunch-backed court jester,abets the Duke in his seduction of the Countess, mocking the cuckolded husband,who swears revenge on Rigoletto. Count Monterone, whose daughter has beenwronged by the Duke, responds to Rigoletto's mockery by pronouncing a curse onhim and his master. In the second scene, set in a blind alley outsideRigoletto's house, the jester meets Sparafucile, a hired assassin, who offershim his services, should he ever need them. Rigoletto, alone, draws acomparison between himself and the murderer, he killing with his tongue and theother with his sword: he recalls Monterone's curse and expresses his contemptfor the courtiers of the Duke . Entering the courtyard of his house, he isgreeted by his daughter Gilda, recently released from her convent school, herpresence hidden from the court . She asks about her mother, but he refusesto answer, although he remembers her with fondness: all his love is now forGilda, his whole universe. Rigoletto summons Gilda's nurse Giovanna, and asksif there have been any visitors, bidding her watch Gilda closely. The Duke,however, disguised as a student, bribes Giovanna to ensure her silence and issurprised to see Rigoletto there, not knowing his relationship with Gilda, whomhe has followed on the way to church. Once Rigoletto has gone, the Dukedeclares his love , giving her an assumed name and not revealing his trueidentity. Once he has gone, she muses on his dear name . The courtiers,meanwhile, gathered in the street outside, think that Gilda must be Rigoletto'smistress and plan her abduction, a procedure in which Rigoletto himself isinduced to help, thinking that they are abducting Count Ceprano's wife. Masked,he holds the ladder for them to climb his own garden wall. They carry out theirscheme , ready to mock Rigoletto the next day.
Act II takes place in the Duke's palace oncemore. The Duke is agitated , since Gilda has been taken from him: when hereturned to her house, he had found her gone, and he imagines her tears and thedanger she is in. His mood changes when his courtiers reveal what they havedone and the identity of their victim. When Rigoletto comes in, affectingunconcern, the courtiers mo