Verdi's Rigoletto

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

The 2013-14 Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast season begins with a live broadcast of Verdi's tragic masterpiece Rigoletto, set in Las Vegas and starring baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in his first company performance of the title role.

Tenor Matthew Polenzani co-stars as the Duke, and two singers make their network broadcast debuts: Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who sings Gilda, and Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado. Bass Štefan Kocán and mezzo-soprano Oksana Volkova are the corrupt siblings Sparafucile and Maddalena.

Host Margaret Juntwait returns for her tenth season, joined in the broadcast booth by commentator Ira Siff. The intermissions include backstage interviews with the stars and the popular Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera Quiz, featuring guest artist, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.


Conductor: Pablo Heras-Casado
Gilda: Sonya Yoncheva
Maddalena: Oksana Volkova
Duke of Mantua: Matthew Polenzani
Rigoletto: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Sparafucile: Stefan Kocán


Comments [13]

concetta nardone from Nassau

This is a comment posted later than the performance. Listened to the last act and thought Dimitri was very good. As for Dimitri, there is a youtube of Dimitri singing Core N'grato in perfect Neapolitan. Bravo

Feb. 01 2014 11:13 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Mr. O'Malley is quite right. And let's not forget banishment as the other punishment for falsification of a will along with the aforementioned hand amputation. It makes perfect sense in 1299,but in the 1950s?

Dec. 09 2013 09:48 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Concetta: mi piace quella parola, "stronzata"! Perfetto.

I agree with Madison, as well, as the absurdities foisted on us by the disconnect between these concept productions and the actual texts of the librettos they are ignoring are always comical. I just mentioned this in a post in response to the review of the 1950s "Falstaff" that we will now have to deal with. Another good one was (again) the 1950s setting of "Gianni Schicchi" done some years back at Juilliard: all that talk of the most valuable mule in Tuscany, and the amputation of the hand as punishment for conspiring to forge a will, made no sense in that setting. Perhaps the directors (and Peter Gelb) don't read the libretti.

Dec. 08 2013 12:32 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

Imagining the stage picture and trying to ignore the absurd update that the management continues to foist on us. For starters, how many Las Vegas establishments do you know of play minuets in the Countess Ceprano scene? I heard a very promising Gilda, but one who sang a puzzling "Gualtier Malde'" at the end of "Caro Nome" all on the note B instead of E on the "de'" syllable. The cadenza in her duet with the Duke was sung complete and uncut. I enjoyed the youth and ardor of the Duke, but was puzzled why he sang "una sorella e del vino" instead of "una stanza e del vino" before "La donna 'e mobile". A few traditional cuts were opened --- a practice for me that's all to the good ---and enjoyed hearing "Possente amor" following "Parmi veder le lagrime", though it was cut. The first time in memory it was sung was when Pavarotti did it. Rigoletto didn't have the Italian sound but had the right inflections and dramatically intense. The chorus sang on the syllable "Ah" instead of humming in the last act storm scene. Admittedly, it sounded more menacing than the usual practice, and the augmented intervals were clearly audible. Kudos to the entire chorus, which usually gets short shrift and/or no mention at all. I thought the timpani crescendo was too loud in the Prelude and a the quarter note cut too short such that it sounded like another eighth note before Rigoletto sings "tu non se hai" in Gilda's entrance aria.Sparafucile'slow F was simply held too long at the end of his first duet with Rigoletto.

Dec. 07 2013 04:28 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

KUDOS to the Rigoletto DMITRI HVOROVSTOVSKY who is a quadruple threat, with a great voice, stunningly virile physique, good musicianship and believable depth in his dramatic concept and execution of his role and to the Sparafucile STEFAN KOCAN whose remarkable protracted low F in his business-like confrontation exhorting his "services" to Rigoletto in Act 1 received a deserved acclamation. The Duke MATTHEW POLENZANI has an appropriately light lyric tenor voice with the acuti, high notes, secure and pleasant sounding. But in this role his singing is not of the exciting caliber of the greats singing the Duke, Caruso, Bjoerling, Del Monaco, Corelli and Pavvarotti. The maestro PABLO HERAS-CASADO most effectively communicated Verdi's score, unlike the what we have seen of the bastardization of the setting and dress as expressed by PIAVE. What if we went to Paris' LOUVRE ART MUSEUM and saw a substitution for the LEONARDO DA VINCI MONA LISA an updated modern version!!! I in my earliest years sang the Duke but I am now a romantischer Wagnerian heldentenor. On St. Valentine's Day, Friday February 14, 2014, my TEN DVD SET of "The 300 Greatest Love Songs of Broadway Musicals, Movies and the Grammys" recorded in ten live concerts will be obtainable. My website is, where one may download, free, at RECORDED SELECTIONS 37 out of the nearly 100 selections that I have sung in 4 three-hour-long solo concerts in CARNEGIE HALL'S ISAAC STERN AUDITORIUM.

Dec. 07 2013 04:22 PM
Madison from Manhattan

So Rigoletto, who paid 20 scudi in Nevada currency of the 1960's(Does the U.S. Treasury Dept.allow this?) to have the Duke killed, finds his daughter in the trunk of a car and instead of going into the casino, which has a medical staff, or phoning 911, he spends 15 mins.pleading with her not to die. He,also, spends the whole opera obsessed with the fact that somebody in 1960's Vegas put a curse on him -a common occurrence that probably scared a lot of casino goers in 1960's Vegas! and being a protective father who wants to shield his daughter's virginity and honor, he, naturally installs her on the top floor of a Las Vegas casino where she's sure to be safe! The idiocies of this production are endless. The man who put this on is an operatic rapist and Peter Gelb, who allowed it, should be fired.

Dec. 07 2013 04:12 PM

At he end of the Vendettta duet the sop. is to go up to High C. She didn't - she hit a High A. Tsk, tsk tsk.

Dec. 07 2013 02:42 PM
susan paul from asheville, nc

Gorgeous Dmitri transformed...thankfully, I am only listening, not having to see the travesty of ugliness in costumes, and set, someone's very bad idea. Classic operas do not need modern interpretation. The sound is from an era which fits the original ideas for set and costumes. The original lily is perfect as it is. (as, by the way, was the previous stunning production of Eugenen Onegin...the new one is so inferior...WHY was it changed???)

Dec. 07 2013 02:26 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

CBC: Thank you. Just listening to this but not really paying too much attention. Busy. Tante belle cose.

Dec. 07 2013 01:30 PM

CBC Hope you are wam & well. These crazy productions are forr the birds. But I was pleasantly surprised but Dmitri. Recent Rigoletto's didn't have that Verdi sound. stay well & warm. careful on the ice. State bene.

Dec. 07 2013 01:11 PM

I too have seen precious few "modern" updates of classics that work well. But I think the effort is well worth the risk of failing.

Dec. 07 2013 11:59 AM
Hendrik E. Sadi from Yonkers, New York

Mr. Verdi would be turning over in his grave if he saw the way his most beloved opera was being desecrated on the high alter of modernism.

One has to wonder how well the stage designer or designers of the present production of Rigoletto understand that the music and action relates to a certain time period in history and not to a 1960 or present day casino period.

What is it about this music they hear that could possibly relate to tuxedo dressed gamblers and their women at a gambling house?

I hear nothing that could. But every note I hear, never fits in with what I see being performed.

The music belongs to the period for which the opera was composed for and should be expressed as such on the stage.

By updating it or any other opera to an earlier time, the stage designer or designers just insults the composer and the librettist.

Dec. 07 2013 10:11 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

CBC: Hope you are well.
Grown a little tired of this opera but did watch the first act of the telecast with the Las Vegas setting and thought it was a hoot.

Dec. 07 2013 08:20 AM

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