Rigoletto

Opera

Rigoletto tells an absolutely atrocious story – between Shakespeare and Victor Hugo for the characters and for the atmosphere – it is an adaptation of Hugo’s The King is Amusing, for the Opera and the immense music of Verdi.

To come out of it joyful is impossible.
To come out of it happy not to be as crazy, as cruel, as foolish as the characters is the reward.

The story is simple from the moment you understand that it is based on a central character, Rigoletto.
He is an ugly, deformed, hunchbacked man – a character by Victor Hugo.
He is mean, cruel, greedy.
He is the official jester of the Duke of Mantua and his job is to give the Duke the worst ideas that exist, so that the Duke is the most depraved in the world.

When the story begins, the Duke wants a wife, but she is happily married. It doesn’t work. Rigoletto mocks the husband mercilessly, while the Duke does everything to get the lady into bed.
Depraved atmosphere – joyful for them.
Unfortunately, the party is interrupted by a man, who accuses the Duke of having dishonored his daughter.

The duke, a kind of Don Juan, knocks down all the pleasant girls who come into his hands.
And he doesn’t care.

It is his jester who will settle the account of the father who comes to shout his anger.
Rigoletto reaches summits of wickedness, helped by the laughter of his friends, the enchanted smile of the count.
The father leaves – after having cursed Rigoletto and the duke.
A curse in the rules of art.
A curse that will allow Rigoletto to have, for once, remorse.
Did he make fun of a humiliated father?
If he didn’t have a daughter, he could have.

But he has a daughter. A very pretty one. In love with a charming young man, met at the church.
So much in love that she will not hesitate for long and will let herself be “kidnapped” by her lover’s friends.

Too bad, the lover is the duke. The Don Juan. The perverse master of Rigoletto the perverse.

If you imagine what comes next, tell yourself it’s worse than you can imagine.
Much worse.

Seeing his daughter kidnapped on the same night he was cursed, Rigoletto believed the curse had fallen on him.
It had – but it wasn’t over at all. He had to see his own daughter seduced by his own master – rogue – corrupted – and all that you can add.
So the curse continued, brought down on him for allowing himself to “raise” girls for his master.

The story was missing a hitman – he arrives in Act III – his name is Sparafucile. He has a sister and a tavern.
Rigoletto wants a dead man? He will have his dead man.
Sparafucile is a conscientious bandit.

But Rigoletto forgot that his daughter was in love. So the ending will be a climax of? I don’t know – infection – horror – Greek revenge?

Here is the scene where he understood, in the midst of his friends, next to his master – and here he is in pain and here he begs and here… the version by the baritone SengHyoun Ko is absolutely poignant – and gives back to this despicable old man all the graces he had lost – I swear to you that in the end you will feel sorry for him.

SengHyoun Ko in Rigoletto – in Daegu Opera House – South Korea.
April 20th 2007.

RIGOLETTO
Yes, my daughter! After such a sweet revenge,
what? You’re not laughing?
She’s in there… I want her… Give her back.

running towards the centre door, but finding it barred by the courtiers

Courtiers, vile, damnable rabble,
how much were you paid for my treasure?
There’s nothing you won’t do for money,
but my daughter is beyond any price.
Give her back … or this hand, though unarmed,
will prove a dread weapon indeed.
A man will fear nothing on earth
when defending his children’s honour.
Assassins, open that door!

He again attacks the door, is dragged away from it by the courtiers, struggles awhile, then gives up, exhausted.

Ah! You’re all against me!
weeping
All against me!
Then I’ll weep. Marullo, my lord,
you whose soul is as gentle as your heart,
tell me, where have they hidden her?
She’s in there …isn’t she? You don’t answer…
Alas! My lords, forgive me, have pity!
Give an old man back his daughter!
To give her back can cost you nothing now,
but to me my daughter is everything.
Lords, forgive me …
Give me my daughter back,
to me my daughter is everything.
Lords, forgive me.

Here are two other settings – and two other moments – later, when it’s time for revenge: with the hitman, then with his daughter :

Rigoletto – M.E.T 2013
Rigoletto – Opera de Paris

As it is a story as human as it is appalling, it has everything to cross the centuries without a wrinkle.
To allow everyone to appreciate it, it is simply necessary to take the trouble to tell the story before – there are many characters, it would be easy to get lost in it – and to translate it, which is now commonly done on all the stages of the world.

As it is a story as human as it is appalling, it has everything to cross the centuries without a wrinkle.
To allow everyone to appreciate it, it is simply necessary to take the trouble to tell the story before – there are many characters, it would be easy to get lost in it – and to translate it, which is now commonly done on all the stages of the world.

and of course, this opera fits like a glove fitted to a hand, to the theme of madness, which is found as much in the shows as in the games – here is a very happy coincidence – another coincidence!

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Featured Image : Rigoletto – by Midatlantic Opera 2014

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