If only it weren't for the sound and picture quality...
There was a good production of Rigoletto somewhere here, but sadly it didn't work for me. It's not awful, but a lot of assets did spoil my enjoyment of it. I love Rigoletto, it is one of my favourite Verdi operas, and I have loved many other Rigolettos namely the 1982 Jean Pierre Ponnelle film, the 2001 BBC production and the Tito Gobbi film.
I too very much liked the 1977 Met production, even if Cornell MacNeil's lead performance was rather inconsistent. For recordings, my favourite is the one from 1971 with Milnes, Sutherland, Pavarotti and Talvela.
Before I talk about what was wrong with this production, the opera itself is not at fault. The characters are vivid and memorable and the music is magnificent. The orchestra overall do play very well, particularly during Cortigiani and the Quartet. Caro Nomme however for my tastes was too staccato and despite John Tomlinson's very good Sparafucile the meeting between him and Rigoletto is just lacking in atmosphere.
Neither are the performances at fault. John Rawnsley is a very moving and malevolent Rigoletto, and Marie McLoughlin an ideal Gilda. And I have to say the scenes with these two together are suitably tender. Arthur Davis is blustery and cynical as the Duke of Mantua, with a vigorous La Donna E Mobile and a poignant Parmi Veder Le Lagrime.
I have no problem with modern settings. The costumes and sets did look good I must admit, my problem with it was that they didn't do much to enhance the atmosphere and story. Staging is interesting if uneven, Rigoletto and Gilda's duets are fine as is the opening scene and Cortigiani and the climatic trio is very intense, however despite the superb playing and singing Si Vendetta just lacks the impact feeling rather stand-and-deliver quality.
Act 3 is definitely the most effective of the three acts, seeing as it is generally the most consistent in staging and pretty much the only act where the sound is at least decent and the narrative clear. The story has its heartfelt and powerful moments but the inconsistent staging and setting change make it less clear than it ought to be.
Where this Rigoletto though is let down most is the picture quality and especially the sound. The picture quality is grainy with one too many had held close-ups(some shaky) and could've done with being much sharper while the sound is terrible, muffled and constantly fading in and out.
Overall, despite the cast and music, disappointing. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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