Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Broadening my Perspective about Rigoletto

I did not go to the Met's simulcast of their new Rigoletto last fall because 1. I really dislike Las Vegas and 2., I strongly believe changing a time and place by 400 years and 6,000 miles is a stage director's ego trip and unlikely to serve the original in a meaningful way.  But I've been rethinking this production of Rigoletto after reading many positive comments and thinking about the possible parallels between a decadent Italian court and a decadent city of gamblers and the 1960s Rat Pack.

I have to say is was the the most moving Rigoletto I've seen. Michael Meyer's vision and a very contemporary translation in the subtitles worked very, very well.  The video work was excellent (and owes much to the fact that most of this set was brilliantly lit, in contrast to some of the atmospheric, gloomy sets I've seen and disliked. Opera singers have to be actors today and this cast of European singers were very good actors although it was quite a stretch for Gilda (German Diana Dramrau) who is surely in her 30s with the body of a woman that age, to sometimes display the innocence and naivete of a protected teenager, but she mostly pulled it off. She has a lovely voice. The Duke, not royalty but a singer with a retineu of empty headed lackeys, was Zelijo Lucic, obviously East European although I don't know the country. He has a smooth and engaging tenor. I didn't get the name of the scarily snake-like Sparofucile who had a wonderful light bass voice and suave beard and sideburns. Best of all Rigoletto was Piotr Beczale (Russian, I think). A wondeful voice, a fine actor.  So sincerely troubled, so quick to be frightened by Monterone's curse and then to beg for his kidnapped daughter.  So grasping and loving a father and finally utterly destroyed by the cruelty of the ending brought about by his desire for vengence (more 16th century than 21st).
 
Oh, the ending -- always a problem.  Verdi's violins sob and I choke up but my head is saying that her throat was cut, how is she rallying and singing for five minutes?  That beautiful line about  praying from him along side her mother in heaven (preferably with out the words) could make a concete block cry. I'm emotionally drained, but in the good way opera can do it.  So glad I saw this opera.


7 comments:

barbara cecelia said...

June -- Nice photo and review. You certainly know your subject well -- and have such a healthy passion for opera. I have only been to one opera in my lifetime. Not enough to speak as you do in your knowledgeable review. Glad that opera gives you such emotional pleasure. We all need pleasure as we go about our life -- barbara

June Calender said...

Because of the institution of simulcasts to movie theatres and the ability to reshow them later, a new audience is beginning to see opera -- a very healthy thing for an art form that too many people avoid. Thanks for your comment.

Lynn Guardino said...

Having, at one time, been a aeason-pass holder for the Met, I am ashamed to admit that I have not partaken in ONE of the simulcasts that are so convenient here, practically in my back yard! I therefore, always enjoy your summaries and your honest opinions. I am, of course, a Puccini lover. Could you have ever imagined that???

Kass said...

I enjoyed your review. So few of my friends appreciate opera that it makes it hard to share my enthusiasm. This music is so moving, I get choked up too.

June Calender said...

Lynn, shame on you! More reruns upcoming SOON!

Exactly, Kass. The stories may be old fashioned and sometimes unbelievable but the MUSIC .. it's all about the music.

I appreciate both your comments.

Bev Sykes said...

Singing with your throat cut ranks up there with Violetta singing as she is dying of TB. Gotta suspend lots of disbelief! I enjoyed your review.

June Calender said...

I've seen performances when she was stabbed, then I could make some sense of it but this was graphically a throat slash. Some bit of rationality escaped the stage director.

In defences of Violeta in Traviata, my favorite opera, it's true people do have those brief spells of lucidity and energy just before dying of TB. I dissolves me every time.