Sombre score brings curse to inevitable climax“Rigoletto” is a dark marvellously melancholic piece. It contains one of those famous arias instantly recognisable to even those unfamiliar with opera, “La donna è mobile”.
Yet this aria is not reflective of the general mood of “Rigoletto”, which is tense and edgy. Verdi was obsessed with the supernatural, fortune cards and curses, and the plot follows a curse placed on Rigoletto from beginning to end.
The deformed court jester, the eponymous Rigoletto performed by Alexandru Agache/Anatolij Fokanov, is the central character, a complex, superstitious and mercurial man. He has a double life: his role as the vicious-tongued jester and the other consisting of a hidden personal life with his beautiful daughter, Gilda.
He is terrified that a curse cast on him in anger has the power to destroy his life. The opera’s original title was “La maledizione”, or “The Curse”, a fitting title as Rigoletto’s actions and superstition lead to the fulfilment of the curse.
Verdi’s dark score is a wonderful portrayal of the different characters; the composer gives the Duke brash and bright arias reflecting his shallow and vain personality, in polar opposite to the complex Rigoletto whose musical phrases are changeable, impossible to grasp.
As he becomes ever more tormented the music reflects this; repetitive tortured strings that hint at danger and tragedy.
Gilda and Maddalena are also contrasting characters. Gilda, performed by Rita Rácz/Erika Miklósa is child-like and delicate and ultimately self-sacrificing, and Maddalena sensual and smouldering.
The curse itself is almost personified with its own musical notes that haunt Rigoletto throughout the opera. It is introduced in the orchestral prelude to Rigoletto and speaks of everything we will see on stage: moody, brooding and tempestuous.
Zsolt Jankó/Domonkos Héja conduct the score, which is so tangible it is almost like a central character, fighting for the audience’s attention with Rigoletto.
The backdrop to all this drama is provided by set designer Attila Csikós. His wondrous sets are as elaborate as the finest art gallery masterpieces, with the compositions of the performers on stage as thoughtfully arranged as a grand painting hanging in the Louvre. Dramatic, sweeping and awe-inspiring, Verdi’s opera deserves no less than elaborate scenery coupled with intense and forceful music.
As the opera spirals towards its inevitable tragedy, the overpowering storm adds to the torment and inner fears of Rigoletto in a Shakespearean way much like King Lear, whose inner torment is mirrored by the harsh elements.
And with nightmarish reality, the curse comes true.
II János Pál Pápa tér 30, District VIII
From Thursday June 16
until Sunday June 26
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