Rigoletto is a three-act tragic opera with music by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto, written by Francesco Maria Piave, is based on Victor Hugo's play Le roi s'amuse. The opera was controversial from its inception, largely due to its source material's censorship in France. The Austrian Board of Censors, which had dominion over much of northern Italy at the time, similarly felt that the play's portrayal of a member of French royalty as an unscrupulous womanizer was inappropriate (the hunchback and curse elements were also frowned upon). But after much negotiation by the well-respected Verdi, the opera was allowed to debut, and was met with great success. It premiered at La Fenice in Venice on March 11, 1851, and subsequently premiered in London on May 14, 1853 and in New York on February 19, 1855. Rigoletto is now widely considered one of Verdi's greatest masterpieces and is currently the tenth most-performed opera worldwide. Get your Rigoletto tickets today and discover this once-controversial work of art.Plot Synopsis:
Act I: In sixteenth-century Mantua, the Duke gloats of his many romantic conquests. Rigoletto, the hunchbacked court jester, ridicules the cuckolded husbands of the women the Duke seduces, and advises him to imprison or execute them. Meanwhile, the other noblemen hear that Rigoletto has a lover, and vow to take vengeance on the insufferable clown. When the Duke seduces the daughter of Count Monterone, Rigoletto deals out his usual mockery, and the Count is imprisoned, cursing both the Duke and jester.
Shaken by the curse, Rigoletto travels home and is startled by the assassin Sparafucile, whose services he declines, saying that words can be just as lethal as swords. He enters his house and greets his daughter, Gilda, who he has been hiding from the town, and especially the Duke, for years. She doesn't know her father's name or occupation, and is only allowed to leave the house to go to church.
Once her father leaves, she confesses to her nurse, Giovanna, that she feels guilty for not telling her father about a charming man she met in church. She says that she would love him even more if he were a poor student. Overhearing this conversation from his hiding place nearby, the Duke enters, pretending to be a poor student named Gualtier Malde. Alarmed, Gilda calls for Giovanna, not knowing that the Duke had secretly sent her away. Fearing discovery by her father, Gilda and the Duke quickly trade expressions of love and he slips away.
Later, the disgruntled noblemen get ready to abduct Gilda, who they believe to be not Rigoletto's daughter, but his lover. Assuring Rigoletto that they are actually on a mission to kidnap Countess Ceprano, they blindfold him and convince him to help them with the plan. Once they have left and he realizes what they have done, he remembers the curse and collapses, distraught.
Act II: At his palace, the Duke worries about what has happened to Gilda, but when the other noblemen enter claiming to have abducted Rigoletto's mistress, he realizes it is her and rushes off to the room where she is being held. Unexpectedly pleased at the Duke's jubilation, the noblemen resolve to play games with Rigoletto, who enters trying to get information about his daughter. After feigning disinterest of the missing girl, he finally breaks down and pleads for her return. After stopping him from recovering her, the men beat the jester until Gilda rushes in, begging for her father to save her. Believing they have won and that Rigoletto has gone mad, the men leave, and Gilda describes the horrors she has suffered. Though she pleads for the Duke, Rigoletto resolved to avenge his daughter.
Act III: Rigoletto and Gilda arrive outside Sparafucile's home and overhear the Duke lecturing on the fickle and unfaithful nature of women; Rigoletto points out to Gilda that the cad is trying to seduce Sparafucile's sister, Maddalena. After paying Sparafucile to kill the Duke, Rigoletto dresses his daughter in men's clothes and sends her off to Verona, telling her he will follow once the deed is done.
Still in love with the Duke despite his lechery, Gilda returns, still dressed as a man. She overhears Maddalena pleading for the Duke and Sparafucile agreeing to spare him if a replacement can be found by midnight. Gilda enters the house and is mortally stabbed, sacrificing herself for her lover though he is unfaithful. When Rigoletto returns, he is given a bagged corpse and rejoices. Just as he prepares to throw it into the river, he hears the Duke singing in the distance. Confused, he opens the sack to discover his beloved Gilda, stating that she is happy to die in place of her love. His worst fear realized, Gilda dies in his arms, fulfilling the dreaded curse.Run Time: Approximately 3 hours Advisory: Due to length, format, and some adult themes, recommended for teens and older. Creative Team: Written by Giuseppe Verdi Italian Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave Based on Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo