Italian #opera: Seattle Opera presents Verdi’s crowd-pleaser Rigoletto

All is festive and fun in the first scene of Seattle Opera’s Rigoletto. Photo courtesy of Seattle Opera © Rozarii Lynch

All is festive and fun in the first scene of Seattle Opera’s Rigoletto. Photo courtesy of Seattle Opera © Rozarii Lynch

Verdi’s Rigoletto is a staple of any opera company’s repertoire, but each new performance offers the possibility of experiencing afresh the intense and emotionally involving tale of the deformed court jester who is caught in a web of corruption, lechery, and revenge; it runs the full emotional gamut in true operatic fashion.

In this current performance there are several Italian performers in the cast, including two Italians who are playing key roles: The baritone Marco Vratogna who plays Rigoletto and tenor Francesco Demuro who plays the Duke of Mantua.

Born in La Spezia, Marco Vratogna began his musical studies at the Puccini Conservatory. Renowned around the world for his distinctive voice of staggering range, timbre and amplitude, Marco Vratogna made his operatic debut in December 2000, in the role of Stankar in Stiffelio by Verdi at Teatro Verdi in Trieste.

Marco Vratogna as Rigoletto opening night. Photo courtesy of Seattle Opera © Elise Bakketun
Marco Vratogna as Rigoletto opening night. Photo courtesy of Seattle Opera © Elise Bakketun

Francesco Demuro was born in Porto Torres, Sardinia. By the age of ten, Demuro made his first stage appearance. He later studied in Cagliari under Elisabetta Scanu, and made his opera debut in the role of Rodolfo in Verdi’s Luisa Miller at the Teatro Regio in Parma in October 2007.

Francesco Demuro as The Duke of Mantua opening night. Photo courtesy of Seattle Opera © Elise Bakketun photo
Francesco Demuro as The Duke of Mantua opening night. Photo courtesy of Seattle Opera © Elise Bakketun photo

Even for those who don’t follow opera, they have likely come across the ubiquitous “La donna è mobile(The woman is fickle) aria. That aria is the Duke of Mantua’s canzone from the beginning of act 3 of the opera. The inherent irony is that the Duke, a callous playboy, is in fact the one who is mobile. In fact, the role of Gilda and the larger issues surrounding the role of women as portrayed in the opera has seen much discussion within the opera community.

Here is a link where you can listen to ten short audio excerpts featuring all of the principal singers: http://seattleopera.org/tickets/2013-2014/rigoletto/audio.aspx

Regardless of your take on the cultural themes within the opera, the mastery of the music, the complexity of the characters and the genuine drama of the story never seem to disappoint. Verdi’s Rigoletto is a real crowd pleaser and it looks like a great production.

Ci vediamo all’opera, Lina

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