Tri-Cities Opera’s first mainstage opera of the 2014-2015 season of REVENGE… REVELRY… REDEMPTION! is Giuseppe Verdi’s breakthrough masterpiece RIGOLETTO.
Father loves daughter…
Daughter loves Duke…
Everyone woman that breathes…
Enter the ASSASSIN!
How will it all end???
Author: Giuseppe Verdi
Time: 16th Century
Place: Mantua, Italy
Strolling among the courtiers in his palace ballroom, the Duke of Mantua boasts of his success with women. After dancing with his newest interest, Countess Ceprano, he escorts her from the room, as his hunchbacked jester, Rigoletto, mocks the Countess’ enraged but helpless husband. A courtier named Marullo bursts in with the latest gossip: Rigoletto is keeping a young mistress in his home. The jester shortly returns with the Duke, and sure of his master’s protection, continues to taunt Ceprano, who plots with the others to punish him. When Monterone, an elderly nobleman, forces his way into the room to denounce the Duke for seducing his daughter, he is viciously ridiculed by Rigoletto. As Monterone is arrested, he pronounces a father’s curse on both the Duke and the jester, who cowers in terror.
Late that night, brooding over Monterone’s curse, Rigoletto hurries to the house where he keeps his daughter, Gilda, in seclusion. On the way, he encounters Sparafucile, a professional assassin, who offers his services. The jester dismisses him, reflecting that his own tongue is as sharp as the murderer’s dagger. The mood brightens when he is greeted by Gilda, who questions him about their background. He nostalgically describes his wife, an angel, adding that Gilda is all he has left. A noise at the gate prompts him to enter the street and the Duke slips into the garden unseen. When Rigoletto leaves, the Duke declares his love for Gilda, who secretly admired him at church, and tells her he is “Gaultier Malde”, a poor student. At the sound of footsteps, Gilda begs him to leave; alone she tenderly repeats his name and then goes up to bed. Meanwhile, the malicious courtiers stop Rigoletto outside and ask him to help abduct Ceprano’s wife, who lives nearby. The jester is duped into wearing a blindfold and holding a ladder against his own garden wall. Laughing at how they have tricked him, the courtiers break into his house and carry off Gilda. Rigoletto, upon hearing his daughter’s cry for help, rushes into the house, and remembers Monterone’s curse.
In his palace, the Duke is distraught over the kidnapping of Gilda. When his courtiers return saying it is they who took her and that she is now in his chamber, he is overjoyed and rushes off the conquest. Soon Rigoletto enters, searching for Gilda. Though the courtiers are astonished to learn that she is his daughter, not his mistress, they bar his way. He lashes out at their cruelty ending his tirade with a plea for mercy. When Gilda appears, disheveled in her nightdress, she runs in shame to her father, who orders the others to leave. Alone with Rigoletto, she tells of the Duke’s courtship, then of her abduction. Monterone is led past still cursing the Duke, and the jester swears revenge, despite Gilda’s pleading for forgiveness.
On a dark night, Rigoletto and Gilda wait outside the lonely inn where Sparafucile and his sister Maddalena live. Gilda watches in disbelief while the Duke, in disguise and laughing at the fickleness of women, makes advances to Maddalena. Rigoletto comforts his daughter as Maddalena leads the Duke on. Telling Gilda to dress as a boy, the jester sends her off to Verona, and then pays Sparafucile to murder the Duke and leaves. As a storm gathers, Gilda returns to hear Maddalena urge her brother to spare the handsome stranger and kill Rigoletto instead. Sparafucile at first refuses, but at length agrees to substitute the next person who comes to the inn. Gilda, resolved to sacrifice herself for the Duke even though he has betrayed her, knocks at the door and is stabbed. When the storm subsides, Rigoletto returns to claim the Dukes body and gloats over the sack Sparafucile gives him – only to hear his supposed victim singing in the distance. Frantically opening the sack, he finds his daughter, who dies asking his forgiveness. Rigoletto cries out that the curse has been fulfilled.