Verdi: Rigoletto [DVD]
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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 ThomsonSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
The sets are somewhat spartan, but this does not detract as the acting of the support chorus aand minor characters overides any static scenery. The opening scene of the Dukes wild party makes others that I have seen look like a church outing. David McVicar is not always to everyones taste, including mine, but this is brilliant. I recomend
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