Friday, January 25, 2013

Verdi's Rigoletto: A New Way

Zelko Lucic as Rigoletto in Vegas
The Metropolitan Opera is about to open a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. The court of Mantua circa 1600 has been changed to Las Vegas, circa 1960. The Duke of Manuta becomes Sinatra-esque. Rigoletto himself possible as Don Rickles. I like it. I'm looking forward to seeing it.


I like the singers involved and I admire the commitment I see in the above clip. This by way of assuring those who care that I'm not mired in nostalgia.

Aldo Protti 1955
This morning I stumbled upon a 1955 RAI telecast of Rigoletto. There is not one outstanding voice here-except Virgina Zeani. The technical quality is sixty years old. But I want you to look at the performance below and notice the superb diction. You could take dictation. All of them singing in their own language but these singers regard the language as crucial. Note also the posture. Even in a TV studio everyone carries him/self with wonderful posture, standing a straight line from the belly button on down. The movements are fluid and easy on the eye. Opera was important to these artists. The staging is uncluttered and clear. If you don't need to move you don't move. No flailing around "all about the  place"

I've heard outstanding voices in this opera: Pavarotti, Milnes, Peters,Sutherland, Mac Neil I loved them.

The over all performance in this ancient TV film I find both gripping and strangely moving. I couldn't watching it. The singers weren't working to become the characters. They were the characters. Notice too that in three minutes Countess Ceprano becomes a major role. Look at Aldo Protti's face at Monterone's curse. Sparafucile is no cloaked bandit but a king in his own realm.Watch for the elegance and clarity-as the story is told through music, words, gesture and attitude. I won't say those were the days because I wasn't there. I will say that this Rigoletto, in fuzzy black and white, with no "names" is wonderful. Do you agree:

Opera is a rich world. Unlike many, I believe the new and the not so new can co-exist. When treated with respect, intelligence and love, opera will thrive in Mantua and in Vegas.

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