Rigoletto (2005) - Further information
Francesco Maria Piave
World Première on 11th March 1851, Teatro La Fenice, Venice
The licentious Duke of Mantua sings "La donna è mobile" in Sparafucile's
dive providing operatic audiences with one of the most catchy songs of the
operatic repertory. The Duke is convinced that all women are congenitally
fickle thus justifying his own love of seduction and the chase which is trumpeted more like a virtue and one coveted by those in his almost bestial circle who cannot share his temperament and are not possessed of his riches or power.
Victor Hugo's play Le Roi s’amuse, dealing with the role of absolutism against the background of the July revolution in Paris, was like a bolt from the blue for Verdi flashing through his mind "like a streak of lightning, like a sudden inspiration". The plot offered the composer the chance to achieve his new concept of figura scenica, with vivid, structured scenes and situations and to break away from the style and form of his early works.
This Duke of Mantua is an untamed lothario; restless, self-assured and immune to scruples or pangs of conscience. He inhabits a closed society and is surrounded by obsequious parasites who cannot allow the Duke to change simply because he meets an exceptional and virtuous young woman – this would deprive them of their decadent, at times bestial, fun and games. Such a society, and such a court, fears nothing as much as melancholia and boredom against which fresh and decadent diversions must be found encapsulated and expressed in the form of the sardonic provocations of the court jester. The audience laughs both with and at the hunchbacked fool who remains an outsider because of his physical affliction. His physical stigma denies Rigoletto the chance of ever being integrated into society, it drives him into isolation, in which he still labours under the illusion that he can secretly create a private corner of the unspoilt world for himself.
With Rigoletto Verdi had completed his "apprentice years" and grew to maturity as an opera composer. The issues in Rigoletto are contemporary and this is why we have asked Doris Dörrie to direct. Doris Dörrie has already staged Così fan tutte and Turandot in Berlin and will now work with Bernd Lepel as designer on her first production for the Bayerische Staatsoper. After new productions of the Ring and Die Meistersinger last season, Zubin Mehta now turns his attention to Verdi, a composer with whom he has long been closely associated. Mark Delavan makes his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper in the title role, Diana Damrau, who has enjoyed such success in Munich as Zerbinetta, Adele and the Queen of the Night, will sing Rigoletto's daughter Gilda, who meets, in Ramon Vargas, the irresistible lover who will break her heart. The première will take place on 21st February 2005.
Sir Peter Jonas