This is Verdi week in the Metropolitan Opera’s series of free online transmissions. Devoted to some of the greatest operatic works written by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, the program features complete performances of Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, Luisa Miller, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Traviata, Don Carlo and Falstaff – each recorded as part of the company’s Live in HD series.
Performances are available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 pm EDT until 6:30 pm the following day.
Rigoletto is the first of Verdi’s operas to feature this week, a work which he wrote in 1851, to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Based on Victor Hugo’s play Le roi s’amuse, Rigoletto tells of the hunch-backed jester at the court of the Duke of Mantua, and his desperate attempts to protect his daughter from a disastrous relationship with the lecherous Duke. It was first performed at La Fenice in Venice on March 11, 1851, and originally entitled La maledizione (The Curse), referring to a curse placed on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a nobleman, Monterone whose daughter had been seduced by the Duke, with the encouragement of the jester.
This production by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, brings the action of Rigoletto to the bright lights of 1960s Las Vegas, where money and ruthless men hold the balance of power. Željko Lučić sings the title role, Piotr Beczała is the Duke – a popular entertainer and casino owner who is out to get everything he wants. Diana Damrau is Rigoletto’s innocent daughter, Gilda, whose seduction by the Duke leads to a tragic end, and Štefan Kocán takes the role of the assassin Sparafucile.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus are led by Italian conductor Michele Mariotti, Musical Director of Teatro Comunale di Bologna since 2014. The performance, recorded on February 16, 2013, can be viewed online on Monday, August 24. For further information, visit the Metropolitan Opera website.