One of the most universal operas by the Italian genius and the composer’s favourite work, which gained him international recognition and which has been always present in theatres since it was premiered in 1851. This dramatic journey of undeniable power in three acts, brimming over with passion, deceit, parent-child love and revenge, is based on the play ‘Le Roi s’amuse’ by Victor Hugo. The story is about a jester who struggles to find a balance between the conflicting elements of beauty and perversity in his life. It is a universal work, tremendously popular, which remains a favourite of all audiences.
The role of the unfortunate jester who lives in fear of something bad happening to his daughter is played by Amartuvshin Enkhbat, a baritone who makes his debut in the Bilbao season. Sabina Puértolas plays the stubborn Gilda, torn between her love for the Duca and her love for her father. A genuine soprano with moments and scenes of great dramatic intensity. The leading trio is completed with the tenor from Jerez Ismael Jordi, who plays the promiscuous Duca di Mantua and sings one of the best-known melodies in the opera world: ‘La donna è mobile’.
The prestigious maestro Daniel Oren, who already demonstrated his skill in previous seasons, is in charge of conducting the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa in a score full of beautiful melodies.
The stage direction is by the multifaceted Miguel del Arco, a theatre and film director, actor and playwright, who has received several Max awards and is known for his audacity when portraying the characters and the atmospheres of the various scenes in a modern style. Miguel del Arco proposes an effective staging of contemporary aesthetics to explain the plot, in which wolves and escorts represent the expressions of human nature, sex, violence, love or hate. The most intense moments are highlighted with expressionist projections.
- Duca di Mantova
- Conde Ceprano
- Condesa Ceprano
- Un Paggio
- Un Usciere
- Director Musical
- Director De Escena
- Director Del Coro
The action takes place in Mantua in the 16th Century. A magnificent party is being held in the ducal palace. After boasting about his own conquests to the courtier Borsa, the duke reveals that he desires a young lady whom he sees every Sunday in church, where he goes in disguise to make his conquests. In the meantime, he courts Count Ceprano’s attractive wife. The hunchbacked court jester, Rigoletto, makes fun of the latter; although they laugh along, the courtiers are considering taking revenge on him and have discovered a secret to do this: Rigoletto keeps a woman hidden, who they assume is his lover. The dances begin but the party is interrupted by the arrival of Count Monterone, who is determined to avenge his daughter’s honour, as she has also been seduced by the duke. Rigoletto cannot hold his tongue even in his presence and Monterone, while being dragged out of the room, curses the duke and especially Rigoletto, who is now speechless.
At night, in an alleyway, Rigoletto, wrapped in his own cloak, thinks about Monterone’s curse. He encounters Sparafucile, who offers his services as a hit man. Rigoletto asks for his name and address and, when left alone, he gives free rein to what is tormenting his life: he is deformed, unhappy, continuously being mocked and, in spite of this, he has to make others laugh. In Sparafucile he sees an opportunity to do justice for all the harassment he has suffered. The only person he can love after his wife’s death is waiting for him at home: his daughter, Gilda. He is afraid that his secret will be discovered, especially by the courtiers. Meanwhile, immersed in his suspicions, he goes home and sees the duke, dressed in clothes that conceal his true identity, enter. To Gilda he pretends to be Gualtier Maldè, a poor student. He is the young man who had approached her in church and who now declares his love for her. The affair between them is interrupted by noises coming from outside. The duke leaves, helped by Giovanna, who Rigoletto had left by in charge of looking out for his daughter but has been won over by the duke with money. Gilda is elated after her encounter with the student. Outside, Marullo, Borsa and the other armed and masked courtiers arrive to abduct the hunchbacked jester’s alleged lover. They make Rigoletto believe that they want to abduct Ceprano’s wife. Rigoletto joins them and, masked and blindfolded, he holds the ladder for them to climb the wall. When they abduct her, Gilda loses one of her shoes. When Rigoletto removes the blind he sees it and, after rushing into the house, he realizes the deception and remembers the curse.
The second act opens in a room in the ducal palace. The duke is deeply disturbed: when he returned to Gilda’s home he found it empty. Annoyed, he swears revenge, although he shows some tenderness when he remembers her. Marullo, Ceprano, Borsa and the other courtiers arrive and tell him about their night adventure: the duke learns that Gilda is in the palace and, to everyone’s surprise, he rushes off. Rigoletto enters and, trying to hide his concern and nervousness, he looks around. A page comes looking for the duke by order of the Duchess, but the courtiers tell him that he is occupied. When he realizes that the occupation is actually his daughter Gilda, Rigoletto loses control: infuriated, he throws himself against the door, ranting and raving, but he finally implores the courtiers to give him back his daughter. Gilda arrives to find her father and confesses that she has lost her honour, telling him how she met the alleged Gualtier Maldè, who was in fact the duke. Rigoletto plans his revenge.
The third act moves to the right bank of the river Mincio. A dilapidated inn and, in the background, Mantua. It is night and Gilda and Rigoletto are in the street. He asks her if she is still in love with the duke and she tells him that she is. Then he asks her to look into the inn, where her beloved, dressed as a cavalry officer, asks for a room and some wine and sings a love song. Maddalena, who is being wooed by the duke, comes down. A quick conversation between Sparafucile and Rigoletto hints at an agreement between them to end the duke’s life. Rigoletto consoles his daughter, upset by the duke’s behaviour with Maddalena, and promises her imminent revenge. She must go to Verona, where they will meet the next day. Gilda leaves and Rigoletto gives Sparafucile ten gold escudos as advance payment; he will give him the other ten when he delivers the duke’s body. A storm is approaching.
The duke goes to sleep and Maddalena tries to convince Sparafucile, her brother, not to kill the young man. Gilda arrives at the inn wearing the men’s clothes she should have used to flee to Verona and hears, without being seen, the conversation between them. Maddalena suggests her brother to kill the hunchback: the duke is too handsome and she is in love with him. Sparafucile refuses, but he is willing to substitute the chosen victim with any other client of the inn, provided he arrives before midnight, which is the time agreed upon with Rigoletto. Gilda asks God and her father for forgiveness, wishes the best to the man she loves and is willing to save, knocks on the door and is killed by Sparafucile. The storm abates.
At midnight, Rigoletto settles his account with Sparafucile and takes the sack with the body to throw into the river. In the middle of the night he hears the duke’s voice, singing the same song as before. Rigoletto, distraught and fearing the worst, tears the sack open and recognizes Gilda who, still alive, tells him what happened and dies with words of forgiveness. In Heaven, next to her mother, she will pray for him. Rigoletto, on the verge of madness, falls onto his daughter’s body, recognizing that what has happened is the terrible effect of the curse that Monterone had launched at the beginning of the opera.