Opera Australia’s latest production of Rigoletto has all the ingredients for a perfect night at the opera.
There’s a storyline encompassing tragedy, the abuse of power, lust, love and revenge.
Then there’s the chance to see younger international opera performers who are set to become major stars of the future.
Colourful and imaginative sets and costumes further add to the appeal of the production.
The opera tells of Rigoletto, a hunchback who is the Duke of Mantua’s court jester. His job is to amuse the Duke and he does so by humiliating the men of the court, especially the men whose wives are seduced by the Duke. Aware of the Duke’s abuse of power and ill treatment of women, Rigoletto tries to hide his daughter Gilda. However, the men who Rigoletto has belittled discover he is living with a beautiful woman. Thinking she is his mistress, they kidnap her and bring her to the Duke. Rigoletto vows to take vengeance and hires an assassin to kill his master. But Gilda has fallen in love with the Duke, which ultimately results in tragedy.
All the lead players expertly bring their characters to life through both their vocal and acting skills.
Leading the way is Mongolian baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat as Rigoletto. His anger, humiliation and grief is evident for all to see and the applause from the audience showed his singing was equally captivating.
Audience appreciation for Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan as the arrogant cad Duke of Mantua was just as palpable. It’s easy to see why Avetisyan was the recipient of the 2017 Golden Mask Award (Russia’s highest theatre award) for the best opera actor.
Some of the biggest cheers on the night came for Melbourne-born Stacey Alleaume, making her role debut as Gilda. Her stage presence and vocal skills shone.
Providing excellent support to the leads were Italian bass Roberto Scandiuzzi as the assassin Sparafucile and mezzo-soprano Sian Sharp as his sister Maddalena.
Other highlights included the work of the Opera Australia chorus and Orchestra Victoria led by Italian conductor Andrea Licata.
While composer Giuseppe Verdi’s opera took place in 16th century Mantua, this production is based on Elijah Moshinsky’s distinctive 1991 vision. It is set in the 1960s and inspired by Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. As such, there’s plenty of colour, thanks to several opulent sets and some glorious costumes, and movement including the arrival of a classic car on stage.
It’s this mixture of colour, outstanding performances and a timeless storyline which ensures Rigoletto offers a memorable night at the opera.
Rigoletto is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre on selected dates until May 29. Visit the Opera Australia website for more information.
*Photo credit: Jeff Busby.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Rigoletto as a guest of Opera Australia.
Visit travelswithjb.com.au-live shows for more show reviews.
- live performance, Opera Australia
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