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Seattle Opera.

Rigoletto

Overview

A believable, imaginative, always effective interpretation of a classic."

–Robert Levine, Limelight Magazine


By Giuseppe Verdi

Verdi’s tense and brutal tale of a megalomaniac’s bitter minion caught in a web of lechery, betrayal, and revenge runs the emotional gamut in true operatic fashion. Hugely popular ever since its Venice premiere, the indelible melodrama boasts memorably complex characters and an action-packed plot propelled by a parade of iconic, unflaggingly brilliant music, especially the iconic La donna è mobile.

It’s Election Night at the Presidential Palace and the Duke of Mantua is holding court. Contrasting the bawdy ostentation of the privileged and powerful with the gritty squalor of Rigoletto’s working class struggles, director Lindy Hume pulls no punches drawing comparisons to newsmakers of today.

Listen to the music

Rigoletto, Opera Queensland, 2014 © Stephanie Do Rozario

Rigoletto is currently available to purchase as part of a season ticket package. Individual opera tickets go on sale May 22. Remind Me

In Italian with English Subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Performance Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes including 1 intermission

 

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Synopsis

ACT I
A party in the palace of the Duke of Mantua. The Duke boasts to his friend Borsa that he is about to complete the conquest of a beautiful young woman he has seen at church. He then dances with the lovely Countess Ceprano, flatters her, and escorts her from the room. The Duke’s odd-looking jester, Rigoletto, mocks the Countess’s jealous husband. The courtiers, all of whom hate Rigoletto, are astonished to hear a rumor that this ugly, hateful man keeps a mistress. Rigoletto suggests the Duke banish, execute, or imprison Count Ceprano. The Count swears vengeance on Rigoletto. Suddenly Monterone, an elderly nobleman, enters and accuses the Duke of having seduced his daughter. Rigoletto ridicules him, whereupon Monterone curses both Duke and jester.

That evening, Rigoletto’s home. The sound of Monterone’s curse ringing in his ears, Rigoletto is returning home when Sparafucile, an assassin, offers his services. Rigoletto politely declines, then muses on what he has in common with the murderer. As he enters his home, a young woman rushes into his arms: his ‘mistress’ turns out to be his daughter, Gilda. She questions Rigoletto about his name, his occupation, and her mother, but her father avoids answering her questions. He charges Giovanna, Gilda’s servant, never to admit anyone into the house. As Rigoletto leaves, the Duke slips into the garden.

Gilda tells Giovanna of a handsome stranger whom she sees at church. Suddenly the Duke, her unknown admirer, steps forward and declares his love, saying he is a penniless student. They sing a rapturous love duet, “È il sol dell’anima;” but then, hearing footsteps, Gilda begs “Gualtier Maldé” to leave.

The footsteps turn out to be the Duke’s courtiers, who are plotting to kidnap Rigoletto’s “mistress.” When Rigoletto, returning home, stumbles into them in the dark, they tell him they’re kidnapping Ceprano’s wife, and he eagerly offers to help. While he holds the ladder, they carry Gilda off. He recognizes her voice as she calls for help—too late. Realizing what has happened, the jester recognizes the work of Monterone’s curse.

Act II
The next morning; The Duke’s Palace. The Duke fumes over the news of Gilda’s kidnapping; he wonders whether she might be the only woman he could love faithfully (aria: “Parmi veder le lagrime”). His courtiers enter, hoping to cheer him up with the humorous story of the prank they’ve played on Rigoletto. Realizing they’ve brought the young lady in question to his palace, the Duke rushes off to complete his seduction of Gilda.

Rigoletto confronts the courtiers, and when they block him from entering the room where Gilda is with the Duke, he begins the aria “Cortigiani” with an explosion of fury and frustration. That gets him nowhere, so he falls to his knees, cringing and whimpering, begging them for mercy. Even when he recovers his dignity and asks them simply to give an old man back his daughter, they refuse him.

Gilda appears and Rigoletto orders the others to leave. Gilda tells her father of the Duke’s courtship and her capture. Rigoletto vows he will wreak the vengeance of Monterone’s curse on the Duke, but Gilda begs Rigoletto to pardon the man she loves (duet: “Si, vendetta”).

Act III
Several weeks later, evening; a dilapidated inn on a river-bank. Rigoletto and Gilda are outside the seedy tavern where Sparafucile lives with his sister Maddalena. The Duke enters, sings the aria “La donna è mobile,” and calls for Maddalena. Rigoletto forces Gilda, who still believes the Duke loves her, to watch the Duke seduce Maddalena.

Rigoletto tells Gilda to disguise herself as a man and travel to Verona, where he will join her the next day. Sparafucile comes out of the inn and collects half his fee from Rigoletto for the delivery of the Duke’s body at midnight. Rigoletto leaves.

Gilda appears outside the inn, dressed as a man. Inside, Maddalena, who has fallen for the Duke, begs her brother not to kill him. She convinces him to kill, instead, the next stranger who comes to their door. Gilda overhears their conversation. Even though the Duke has betrayed her, she is determined to sacrifice her own life to save his. She knocks on the door. Sparafucile stabs her.

Rigoletto returns to the inn, and Sparafucile drags out the sack containing the victim. Rigoletto hears the voice of the supposedly murdered Duke in the distance, opens the sack, and finds his beloved daughter. She tells Rigoletto that she wanted to die to spare the Duke and asks for Rigoletto’s forgiveness before she dies.

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Cast

Lester Lynch

Rigoletto

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Crown, Porgy and Bess, and Di Luna, Il trovatore
At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Rigoletto, Rigoletto

Hometown: New York, NY
Seattle Opera Debut:  Crown, Porgy and Bess (’95)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Crown, Porgy and Bess (’18), Di Luna, Il trovatore ('97)
Recently: Enrico, Lucia di Lammermoor (English National Opera); Shylock, The Merchant of Venice (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Crown, Porgy and Bess (Teatro alla Scala)
Upcoming: Josh Gibson, The Summer King (Michigan Opera Theatre); The Prisoner, The Prisoner (Semperoper Dresden); Crown, Porgy and Bess (Volksoper Wien)

Last updated: October 2018

Lester Lynch

Rigoletto

Aug. 10, 17, 23, 25, & 28

Giuseppe Altomare

Rigoletto

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Rigoletto, Rigoletto

Hometown: Molfetta, Italy
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Rigoletto, Rigoletto (Budapest Summer Festival); Germont, La traviata (Fondazione del Teatro del Maggio Musicale); Belcore, L’elisier d’amore (Teatro Massimo di Palermo)
Upcoming: Germont, La traviata (Fondazione del Teatro del Maggio Musicale)

Last Updated: December 2018

Giuseppe Altomare

Rigoletto

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 11, 14, 18, & 24

Madison Leonard

Gilda

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Chrisann, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, and Frasquita, Carmen
At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Gilda, Rigoletto

Hometown: Coeur d'Alene, ID
Recently: Juliette, Romeo et Juliette (Wolf Trap Opera); Ilia, Idomeneo (Wolf Trap Opera), Zegner Sister 1, Proving Up (Washington National Opera)

Last Updated: December 2018

Madison Leonard

Gilda

Aug. 10, 17, 23, 25, & 28

Soraya Mafi

Gilda

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Gilda, Rigoletto

Hometown: Manchester, UK
Seattle Opera Debut: Flora, The Turn of the Screw (’18)
Recently: Nannetta, Falstaff (Garsington Opera); Tytania, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (English National Opera); Cleopatra, Giulio Cesare in Egitto (English Touring Opera)
Upcoming: Cintia, La divisione del mondo (Opera National du Rhin); Gretel, Hansel and Gretel (Grange Park Opera)

Last Updated: December 2018

Soraya Mafi

Gilda

Aug. 11, 14, 18, & 24

Liparit Avetisyan

Duke of Mantua

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Duke of Mantua, Rigoletto

Hometown: Yerevan, Armenia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Alfredo Germont, La traviata (Staatsoper Berlin); Duke of Mantua, Rigoletto (Semperoper Dresden); Tamino, The Magic Flute (Festival Castell de Perelada)
Upcoming: Alfredo, La traviata (Royal Opera House); Nemorino, Elisir d'amore (Glyndebourne Festival); Lensky, Eugene Onegin (Semperoper Dresden)

Last Updated: January 2019

Liparit Avetisyan

Duke of Mantua

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 10, 17, 23, 25, & 28

Yongzhao Yu

Duke of Mantua

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Duke of Mantua, Rigoletto

Hometown: Houston, TX
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Rodolfo, La bohème (Houston Grand Opera); Romeo, Romeo and Juliet (National Centre for the Performing Arts); Flavio, Norma (Houston Grand Opera)

Last Updated: December 2018

Yongzhao Yu

Duke of Mantua

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 11, 14, 18, & 24

Ante Jerkunica

Sparafucile

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Sparafucile, Rigoletto

Hometown: Split, Croatia
Seattle Opera Debut: Sarastro, The Magic Flute (’17)
Recently: Le Veilleur, Odeipe (Amsterdam National Opera); Gesler, Guillaume Tell (Theater an der Wien); König Marke, Tristan und Isolde (Deutsche Oper Berlin)
Upcoming: Landgraf Hermann, Tannhäuser (Deutsche Oper Berlin); Graf Rodolfo, La sonnambula (Deutsche Oper Berlin); Pimen, Boris Godunow (Deutsche Oper Berlin)

Last Updated: December 2018

Ante Jerkunica

Sparafucile

Aug. 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, & 28

Nerys Jones

Giovanna

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Inez, Il trovatore

Hometown: Llanfair Caereinion, Wales 
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Second Lady, The Magic Flute (Vashon Opera); Prince Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus, and Marcellina, The Marriage of Figaro (Tacoma Opera)

Last updated: October 2018

Nerys Jones

Giovanna

Aug. 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, & 28

Clayton Brainerd

Count Monterone

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Count Monterone, Rigoletto

Hometown: Portland, OR
Seattle Opera Debut: Il Re, Aida (’18)
Recently: Soloist, Verdi Requiem (Utah Festival Opera); Soloist, Verdi Requiem (Defiant Requiem); Soloist, Bach’s St. John Passion (Orchestra Seattle)
Upcoming: Soloist, Wotan’s Farewell (LUCO); Soloist, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (American Festival Chorus)

Last Updated: December 2018

Clayton Brainerd

Count Monterone

Aug. 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, & 28

Cast

Creative Team

Carlo Montanaro

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Il trovatore
At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Rigoletto

Hometown: Cecina, Italy
Seattle Opera Debut
Don Quichotte (’11) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: Madame Butterfly (’17) Mary Stuart (’16); Nabucco (’15) 
Recently:
 Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Australia, Sydney); Rigoletto (Opéra de Montréal)
Upcoming: Werther (Opera Australia, Sydney); Mozart's Requiem (Teatro Regio di Parma); La traviata (Operà Garnier, Paris)

Last Updated: December 2018

Carlo Montanaro

Conductor

Lindy Hume

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Rigoletto, Cinderella

Hometown: Sydney, Australia 
Seattle Opera Debut: Count Ory (’16)
Previously at Seattle Opera: The Barber of Seville (’17)
Recently: Athalia (Opera Australia); Carmen (West Australian Opera); Don Giovanni (Opera Queensland)
Upcoming: Carmen (Oper Leipzig)

Last Updated: December 2018

Lindy Hume

Director

Richard Roberts

Production Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Rigoletto

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Scaramouche Jones (Fairfax Studio); Lip Service (Lawler Theatre)
Upcoming: Cunning Little Vixen (State Opera of South Australia)

Last Updated: December 2018

Richard Roberts

Production Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

John Keene

Chorusmaster

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Il trovatore, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Carmen
At Seattle Opera in 2019/20: Rigoletto, Cinderella, Eugene Onegin, La bohème

Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Seattle Opera Debut: Chorusmaster, Fidelio (’12)
Recently: Conductor, As One (Seattle Opera); Porgy and Bess, Chorusmaster Aida (Seattle Opera); Assistant Conductor, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Seattle Opera)
Upcoming: Chorusmaster, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Carmen (Seattle Opera); Judge, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Last updated: December 2018

John Keene

Chorusmaster

Creative Team

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Main Image © Philip Newton | Photos: Rigoletto, Opera Queensland, 2014 © Stephanie Do Rozario, Rigoletto, Opera Queensland, 2014 © Stephanie Do Rozario, Rigoletto, New Zealand Opera, 2012 © Neil Mackenzie