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If there are lingering doubts about the Royal Opera House's artistic renaissance after its mid-1990s doldrum years, David McVicar's gritty and sexy production of Rigoletto should blow them all away. One of the principal reasons is McVicar's decision to emphasize the tyrannical nature of the Duke (beautifully sung by Marcelo Alvarez), and the appalling social injustice that springs from a corrupt leader: his court is a place of physical and sexual abuse (graphically, but by no means gratuitously, depicted). This violence throws the dual nature of Paolo Gavanelli's energetic, insectlike Rigoletto into relief, making his sycophancy seem all the worse and his vengefulness all the more sympathetic.
The singing and acting are first-rate. Christine Schafer has a gorgeous voice and an intelligent sense of phrasing, and plays Gilda as a frail, morbid creature whose ultimate self-sacrifice is as much an act of neurotic despair as of love. The production is also a visual and orchestral success. Michael Vale's set is a masterpiece of economy and Edward Downes draws some stunning playing from the Royal Opera Orchestra. This is undoubtedly the best Rigoletto committed to DVD thus far. --Warwick Thomson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
someone for doing this to a performance that defines why one should see opera.
The Duke is not a nice man. His courtiers are not nice people. What goes on is not nice. This is a very powerful visual representation of what is going on; and the orchestra bopping away in the background in the first scene heightens the on-stage tension.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a truly great interpretation and production. It is all of a piece. The singers can act (or should it be the actors can sing) and it fits together musically, dramatically and visually.
I would consider it a "must" buy.
Most recent customer reviews
This particular view over a classic opera is difficult to judge. Was it necessary to use so many scenes displaying explicit sexuality in order to sustain the message of the... Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2008 by carminaburana
everything is great except Gilta. Since she is a main character in this opera,I mark this dvd 3 starsPublished on Feb. 21 2007 by Luo Qiong
This version of Verdi's classic, Rigoletto, performed by The Royal Opera at Covent Gardens, England offers all the features you would expect in a DVD: great digital picture and... Read morePublished on July 10 2004 by OperaOnline.us
I loved everything about this production. I can see that a lot of work went into the design of the set however I didn't care for the finished product - solely a matter of opinion. Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2003
Gavanelli as Rigoletto was quite outstanding. I was disappointed by Alvarez. His singing was quite forced; it had no squillo at all. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2003 by Mario Petrilli
First - the subject of sexual content...I thought it was a startling attention grabber at the beginning and was very effective at portraying a corrupt society. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2003 by Scott Parsons
Ok, so the first scene is over the top. Not only is the nudity unnecessary (do we really need this to sell tickets to "Rigoletto"? Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2003 by S A LEWIS
I liked this because of the performance of the principals which I enjoyed very much. I am familiar with Alvarez but not the rest of the cast who were excellent. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2002 by operamaryc
In the bonus material on the DVD there is an interview with the director of this production of "Rigoletto", who noticed that his goal was to make totally different approach to... Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2002 by George Khelashvili