Rigoletto (2005) - Synopsis

Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto. Mark Delavan, Diana Damrau Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto. Mark Delavan

Rigoletto (2005)

Giuseppe Verdi
Francesco Maria Piave


Act One

At a dissipated court festivity the Duke tells his courtiers about an unknown, beautiful young girl whom he has been meeting clandestinely for the past three months and whom he now plans to conquer. For the time being, however, it is the Countess Ceprano to whom he is attracted. Her husband, the Count, is forced to look on helplessly while the Duke pays court to his wife, heedless of comment and regardless of her husband's feelings. The Duke's favourite, his jester Rigoletto, takes a great deal of pleasure in heaping caustic scorn on the betrayed husband. To the general delight of anyone who will listen, Marullo reveals that he has discovered that Rigoletto, the outsider, has a young innamorata. When Rigoletto cynically advises the Duke to have Count Ceprano thrown into prison or even executed so that he can have his way with the Countess, Ceprano's friends decide to teach the jester a lesson for his outrageous behaviour. Count Monterone bursts in and denounces the Duke as the seducer of his daughter. He, too, is not safe from Rigoletto's sport. Beside himself with anger, the Count calls down a curse on the Duke and his favourite, Rigoletto.

Rigoletto meets the professional assasin, Sparafucile, who hints that he, Rigoletto, will soon be requiring his services. Rigoletto is haunted by the thought of Monterone's curse. He is worried about his daughter, Gilda, whom he keeps concealed from the world under the care of Giovanna. Gilda tells Giovanna about the attentions of a  young man who has been following her for some time and with whom she has fallen in love. Suddenly this young man appears at her side. He tells her he is a poor student and quite overwhelms her with his passionate  declaration of love. Their tryst is disturbed abruptly. The Duke disappears and Gilda follows him in her thoughts.

The Duke's courtiers plan to abduct Gilda. When Rigoletto suddenly returns unexpectedly, they assure him that it is Countess Ceprano they are intent on capturing. In this way they persuade Rigoletto to help them abduct his own daughter. Too late, Rigoletto realizes that he has been duped.


Act Two

The Duke is disconsolate when he learns that Gilda has been abducted. When his courtiers proudly present their catch, he takes Gilda into his care.

Rigoletto is looking for his daughter and it gradually becomes clear to him that she is with the Duke.

Distraught and full of shame, Gilda faces her father. He is the only one to whom she is willing to admit what has happened. Rigoletto decides to seek revenge.


Act Three

Rigoletto goes to visit Sparafucile, taking Gilda with him; he has not been able to get Gilda to forswear her love for the Duke. With the help of Maddalena, Sparafucile's beautiful sister, who acts as a decoy, the Duke is lured on to the scene. Gilda now has to watch the man she loves making advances to another woman. Rigoletto sends Gilda away so that he can review his bargain with Sparafucile.

Gilda returns secretly. She overhears a conversation between Maddalena and Sparafucile and learns about their plan to murder the Duke. Maddalena wants to spare the Duke, but Sparafucile, who has given Rigoletto his word, decides to stick to the original plan to kill the Duke unless some stranger arrives in the course of the night, whom he might then kill instead. Gilda is willing to sacrifice herself for the Duke.

At midnight Sparafucile hands Rigoletto a sack containing a corpse. Rigoletto is triumphant. Only when he hears the Duke's voice does he realize that it is the body of his murdered daughter which he is holding. Monterone's curse has finally caught up with him.

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