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Rigoletto: The Old Man's Curse

Verdi's stunning masterpiece Rigoletto has always been a favorite. The story, based on Victor Hugo's The Old Man's Curse or The King Amuses Himself, is heart-wrenching and tear shedding. Many people who enjoy the opera probably think that Victor Hugo wrote it just like that. The Duke ravishes Gilda and Rigoletto decides to avenge his daughter, but she ends up sacrificing herself instead. I myself have been pretty sure that that was how the original story went.

Now, that isn't exactly true. First of all, in Hugo's version the role of the duke is displayed as King Francis. Hugo's prototype was King Philippe and the play was banned because it discredited the king. After only one performance, the King forbid the play to be set. Hugo was upset, naturally. Verdi had the same problem: he wasn't allowed to call his opera The King Amuses Himself because this time it discredited noblemen such as the Duke. He wasn't even supposed to set it in France, so he chose Mantova. The names were also to be changed.

Second of all, King Francis (Duke of Mantove), never ravished Blanche (Gilda). When Blanche told Triboulet (Rigoletto), that she was innocent, he didn't believe her. By hiring murderers, he decided to avenge his daughters 'innocence'. Blanche found out about his plan and sacrificed herself. There was another thing which was out of the ordinary. King Francis had a son. While Triboulet was sobbing over his daughter, a messenger came and told King Francis that the dauphin was murdered. What a strange ending! It was also very difficult for me to accept the fact that the murderer's sister's name was Zerlina...

There is a 2010 video recording of Rigoletto from the Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden. Fabio Luisi conducting. The cast includes Juan Diego Florez as Il Duca di Mantova, Zeljko Lucic as Rigoletto, Diana Damrau as Gilda, Georg Zeppenfeld as Sparafucile, and Christa Mayer as Maddelena.

Diana Damrau is a very dramatic Gilda. Meaning, her voice was very heavy but I personally like it. The last trio was very enjoyable. I don't believe that Florez should sing Verdi. Yes, I enjoyed it but his voice is just too Tonio-like for me. Lucic is a very good Rigoletto. I heard him as Rigoletto in San Francisco this year and I didn't like him that much. Not a good day, probably.


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