Grand opera is called that because truly it is grand. I was reminded again this afternoon when I went to a HD film from Padua of a performance of Rigoletto. I have heard this opera and known its story since I was 15 but I have never seen it on stage. I was blown away, fiilled with elation and brought to tears. The story is SO melodramatic, the emotions are so simple and raw, and the music is so magnificent, the voices were wonderful and the cimenatography with wonderfully done close-ups was so intimate, that I felt myself torn -- truly torn with the rawness of the emotions. The music, of course, brilliantly enforced those emotions.
And then the theatrical excitement at the end of the second act, after Rigoletto's joyous decision to take revenge on the amoral duke -- the happiest and most deeply felt aria in the entire opera, the clamor of the Padua audience and the look of joy and satisfaction on the magnicently weathered baritone's face, as well as the beautiful face of the Gilda -- then they sang an encore! Never mind that they stepped out of the flow -- it was theatrically exciting! Finally the total tragedy at the end as Gilda choses to die for her good-for-nothing love. Tears, not for the act but evoked by the sweetness of her final reprise of the aria about being in heaven with her mother. The heart went through a flow of emotions that would not be possible in real life but in opera -- all of it doubled by Verdi's musical genius ... Bravo! Brava! Viseceral excitement and then the elation of taking that exciting emotional journey.
A guy behind me said to his date, "You don't get this kind of thing on Broadway." No, that's why it's called GRAND opera.
ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Memphis - This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge an...
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