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Rigoletto (1982)

This summary contains the complete plot of the opera Rigoletto by Guiseppi Verdi. Rigoletto is a jester in the court of the Duke of Mantua. He has a hunch-back and he's rather unattractive,... See full summary »

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(play), (libretto)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Ingvar Wixell ...
...
...
Ferruccio Furlanetto ...
Victoria Vergara ...
Fedora Barbieri ...
Bernd Weikl ...
Marullo (singing voice)
Roland Bracht ...
Louis Otey ...
Rémy Corazza ...
Kathleen Kuhlmann ...
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Storyline

This summary contains the complete plot of the opera Rigoletto by Guiseppi Verdi. Rigoletto is a jester in the court of the Duke of Mantua. He has a hunch-back and he's rather unattractive, but he's good at his job of humiliating the courtiers for the amusement of the Duke. The courtiers, of course, are not amused. The Duke is a ladies man who feels his life would be meaningless if he couldn't chase every skirt he sees. In fact, we learn as the opera begins that he's recently been noticing a young lady every Sunday on her way to church, and he's vowed to have his way with her. What nobody realizes is that the girl is the jester's beloved daughter, Gilda, and that Gilda has seen the Duke every Sunday and is smitten with him. Suddenly Count Monterone appears at court, furious that the Duke has seduced his daughter. Rigoletto ridicules Monterone, the Duke laughs, and Monterone casts an awful curse on both of them. Later, the courtiers discover that Rigoletto is secretly living with Gilda... Written by Bill Anderson <billanderson@my-deja.com>

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Genres:

Drama | Music

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Release Date:

24 January 1992 (UK)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Opera as Hollywood
13 September 2004 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

Jean-Pierre Ponnelle made many opera films between 1974 and 1988. This was at a time when it was unusual and technically quite difficult to record live performances of operas on stage. Ponnelle tended to make operas look like Hollywood musicals. They have high production values and are visually attractive. The performers are world-class but the singing is dubbed and the films have an artificial look about them. I am aware of the irony of complaining that Ponnelle's opera productions look artificial: what could be more artificial than people singing a story on a stage? But we accept opera within its own conventions. If the singers are not singing it looks phoney. If the performers are not doing it for real you can tell because they are not putting enough effort into it. It's a bit like soft core pornography I suppose.

This production from 1982 stars Luciano Pavarotti, who was then probably at the peak of his powers. He sounds wonderful but he has never been noted for his acting ability. He can put over an aria if he is really singing but when he is miming he has a frightened look in his eyes. Furthermore, it looks as if Pavarotti was rarely in the studio at the same time as the rest of the cast. I think only in his duet with Gilda does he appear in the frame simultaneously with another performer. It looks as though he recorded his part separately. For all I know he was probably in a different continent when the rest of the cast were making the film.

Edita Gruberova is a shrill Gilda. Ingvar Wixell is a most unsympathetic Rigoletto. He also doubles the part of Monterone. This only serves to underline the artificiality of the enterprise. The only reason I bothered to review this film is that it is still doing the rounds on a British arts channel. I actually pay a subscription to see things like this. The following night, I watched a recording of the wonderful 2001 Covent Garden production of the same opera. It is reassuring to see how far the filming of opera has advanced in the last 20 years.


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