22, 25, 28 October | 2, 4 November
Opera in three acts
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le Roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo.
Sung in Italian with English Surtitles
First performed at La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851
Dating from the very middle of Verdi’s middle period, and occupying first place in the famous early 1850s trilogy that includes Il Trovatore and La Traviata, Rigoletto is one of the best known of all Verdi’s operas. Indeed, it is the first of his operas to have remained popular and firmly in the repertoire without interruption, since its premiere at La Fenice in Venice in 1851 to the present day. There were, nevertheless, impediments to early performances, both from the official censors and self-censorious audiences, appalled by what they saw as the ‘immorality’ and ‘obscene triviality’ of the Victor Hugo play on which Verdi and his librettist Francesco Maria Piave based their masterpiece. Early performances sometimes had to be given under different titles, occasionally even with Gilda living to see a happy end – indication, if nothing else, of the opera’s durability. Despite magnificent choruses, it is also essentially an intimate drama, something that lends itself to the adaptations also required in a pared-down performance such as that presented here in the ShortWorks series.
Back in 1851, Rigoletto represented Verdi’s most radical break yet with the conventions of Italian opera. Everything seems to be driven by the characterization of Hugo’s play. Fired up with enthusiasm, Verdi called the play ‘the greatest subject and perhaps the greatest drama of modern time’, and he described Triboulet (the character who became Rigoletto) ‘a creation worthy of Shakespeare’.
The Festival ShortWorks are made possible by the generous support of The Lord Magan of Castletown.
22 Oct - 11 a.m.
25 Oct - 3.30 p.m.
28 Oct - 3.30 p.m.
2 Nov - 3.30 p.m.
4 Nov - 3.30 p.m.