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Verdi: Rigoletto [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Paolo Gavanelli, Marcelo Alvarez, Christine Schafer, Royal Opera Chorus, Royal Opera House Orchestra
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Dutch, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Mar 2002
  • Run Time: 169 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000062Y6L
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,883 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Feature running time: 169 mins approx
Subtitles: GB, F, D, and NL, SP


If there are doubts still lingering about the Royal Opera House's artistic renaissance after its mid-1990s doldrum years, David McVicar's gritty and sexy production of Rigoletto should blow them all away. One of the principal reasons is McVicar's decision to emphasise the tyrannical nature of the Duke (beautifully sung by Marcelo Alvarez), and the appalling social injustice that springs from a corrupt leader: his court is a place of physical and sexual abuse (graphically, but by no means gratuitously, depicted). This violence throws the dual nature of Rigoletto into relief, making his toadyism seem all the worse and his vengefulness all the more sympathetic.

The singing and acting are first rate, with Paolo Gavanelli's energetic, insect-like Rigoletto worthy even to stand against Anthony Sher's Richard III. Christine Schafer has a gorgeous voice, an intelligent sense of phrasing, and plays Gilda as a frail, morbid creature whose ultimate self-sacrifice is as much an act of neurotic despair as of love. The production is also a visual and orchestral success. Michael Vale's set is a masterpiece of economy--both the Duke's palace and Rigoletto's home are surrounded by broken objects, wire fencing and gloomy shadows--and Edward Downes draws some stunning playing from the Royal Opera Orchestra. This is undoubtedly the best Rigoletto committed to DVD thus far.

On the DVD Rigoletto comes with an entertaining 17-minute BBC biography of the composer, "Verdi Through the Looking Glass", presented by conductor Charles Hazlewood, as well as an illustrated synopsis of the opera, and a revealing 10-minute interview with the director. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Dutch and Spanish.--Warwick Thomson

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Plaza Marcelino on 27 Jun 2003
Format: DVD
Be prepared for a startingly novel view on this old warhorse. McVicar's production for London's Royal Opera brings out unabashedly all of the libretto's sexual tensions, usually only hinted at in traditional productions, stunningly laid out and planted before the viewer's very eyes throughout the whole work which characterises the production's conception. In purely vocal terms the very accomplished cast is led by the immaculate Gilda of Christine Schäfer (yes, the same one you encountered "singing" Pierrot Lunaire exemplarily for Pierre Boulez on a DG cd, of all people), prudently set apart by McVicar as apparently the only sane person in the whole lot of characters in spite of her falling for "Gualtier Maldé". The Argentinian Marcelo Álvarez is an outstanding Duke, cynical, libidinous and unhinbited as perhaps any other recent exponent of the rôle, his physical presence no doubt visually supporting this. Gavanelli is a Rigoletto vocally in the grand Italian tradition, right in timbre in spite of some occasional rapid vibrato but exemplary in his diction, a rather deranged character in McVicar's view who walks about the stage in crotches; one quickly sees why he's rightly sought after by the world's leading opera houses for this rôle. The other important parts, those of Sparafucile and Gilda, are also very well cast, especially the latter who must be one of the horniest Gildas on record. Visually, the production subscribes to current visions on the ways of people of wealth of four or five centuries ago: exquisite fabrics enrobing people who appear not to have visited a bathtub for many months (gone seem to be the days in which period plays, operas and movies showed immaculate participants).Read more ›
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Edgar Sanilevich on 23 Mar 2003
Format: DVD
Although the nudity in1st act maybe the reason some people will buy and other people won't buy this DVD,the main reason for buying David Mc Vicar's production of Rigoletto should be the outstanding performance by the main characters.Both the acting and singing are first rate,with the only exception of Marcelo Alvarez as the Duke which disappointed me a bit.
Christine Schaefer is perfect as Gilda,
Paolo Gavanelli is a great actor and a wonderful singer in one of the best Rigoletto performances I've seen.
Both the sound and visual are of very good quality making the purchase of this DVD a good bargain.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mrs Pisaroni on 23 May 2009
Format: DVD
Quite simply the most moving production of Rigoletto I've seen. After an earthy start showing the true decadence of the Duke's court, and a rather nervous opening aria from Marcello Alvarez the production suddenly steps up a gear with the appearance of the peerless Paolo Gavanelli as Rigoletto, the hunchbacked jester who weaves his way across the stage like some malevolent spider, his sticks becoming extentions of his body as he moves about. The scenes between Gavanelli and Christine Schaefer as his doomed daughter Gilda are spine tingling, the duet between Alvarez and Gilda is moving and beautifully sung, in fact the longer the opera goes on the more assured Alvarez becomes. Rigoletto's cry for vengeance-'Vendetta' is stirring and of course, the quartet and La Donna Mobile never fail to excite. The searingly tragic ending-surely the saddest in all opera-never ceases to leave me tear stained and emotionally drained. A triumph.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. D. Vanderweele on 5 Feb 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This production, the singing, sound quality and the staging place this DVD at the very highest level of operatic performance. I have always thought that Titto Gobbi was the definitive Rigoletto with his dark, dramatic and angry interpretation. Paolo Gavanelli is his equal in attack and drama. Christine Schaefer is a wonderful Gilda and the equal of Callas in this performance. The other principals are also outstanding.

The opening staging may be controversial, with bare breasts and brief nudity, but it is justified in emphasizing the dissolute and depraved atmosphere of the court that can allow the ruin of a courtier's daughter and the kidnapping of Rigoletto's supposed mistress. It is a dark and unpleasant land where at night one can be approached by an assassin offering to kill the person of your choice for 20 scudos. The staging underscores the story-line and the lyrics with dark, run-down sets.

The sound quality was outstanding. I played digital 5.1 through my amplifier and thought the quality of sound the equal of any CD.

This is the best staging of an opera I have ever seen and I doubt anyone will be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shad on 24 May 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When I first inserted the disc into my player it came up with the message "non-compatable disc". It turned out to be an NTSC recording, not PAL. Amazon did not mention this. Fortunately my player can be programmed for NTSC, but this involves a fairly complex procedure, then I had to go through the whole rigmarole again to change back to PAL.

The disc opens with a menu where English sub titles can be switched on or off, chose between stereo or suround sound, a synopsis with still pictures, 'Verdi through the looking glass' (very interesting), and an interview with David McVicar the stage director.

The story opens with an orgy at the Duke's palace. A very drab and sombre scene and I felt that surely the Duke would have had a bright and colourful ballroom to create a party mood for his guests. This depressing scenery continued throughout the opera. This is obviously to create an atmosphere for what, after all, is a tragedy, but I would have liked to have seen scenery showing the architecture of the period, not what looks like chicken wire!

I suppose really I like my entertainment to have a happy ending, and in future I will stick to light hearted romps like 'The Marriage of Figaro.
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