Monday, July 22, 2019

Rigoletto from Bregenz


Conductor: Enrique Mazzola
Stage Director: Philipp Stölzl

Duke of Mantua: Stephen Costello,
Rigoletto: Vladimir Stoyanov,
Gilda: Mélissa Petit,
Sparafucile: Miklós Sebestyén​,
Maddalena: Katrin Wundsam,
Count Monterone: Kostas Smoriginas

There is a film of Verdi's Rigoletto from Seebühne, Bregenzer Festspiele, Bregenz from July 19, 2019, on Opera on Video. There is nothing in the outdoor setting at Bregenz on Lake Constance to provide reflecting surfaces for the singers' voices, and as a result they are miked.  This cannot be helped.

The setting is amusing.  The clown's mouth opens and The Duke is inside with the girl friend of the moment.  Gilda at home with Rigoletto is carefully chained to the clown's right hand to prevent her from falling.  It's all very lively looking and frightening. Gilda then sings "Caro nome" from the basket hanging below the balloon while the giant clown looks up at her.  I liked Mélissa Petit quite a lot.

Our Rigoletto is possibly a bit feeble minded.  I've always seen him played as though he only tried to be funny for the Duke, and was dark and angry the rest of the time.  The kidnapping of Gilda from her basket in the sky is far more exciting than I've ever seen before.  Only one man makes it up to her location, and she fights to knock him off, almost succeeding.  He cheats and chloroforms her.

The Duke sings from the top of a ladder, and Gilda is dragged around like a rag doll.  Perhaps she is an acrobat, or has a stunt double.  The big eyeballs come out and roll around.  If you find your opera stagings boring, this is not in that category.  It's a bit scary for me.  This is Rigoletto at the circus, which makes more sense than Rigoletto in Vegas.

I could go either way with Stephen Costello's Duke.  I see that he has sung it all around the opera world.  It seems a bit heavy for him but otherwise quite good.

Modern opera is all theater and only occasionally good singing.  Do people really require that much distraction today?  Perhaps.

1 comment:

Acar Nazli said...

I saw the film version on video. I was at home watching it on a 65 inch TV with a surround sound audio system. There was a lot of distraction in this production, even though some of the staging and the sets were quite beguiling, with a shimmering lake below and reflection of lights on the water. I am not sure why these productions are taking place, whether to attract new audiences or keep the old ones engaged. But as much as I wanted to be engaged, I felt that the production was repelling. As I was about to turn off the video, I was captivated by the sound I was hearing. No matter what they have done, I said to myself, they could not screw up Verdi's music, and I was right. The singers were excellent and the orchestra was above par. I did not care for the acrobatics and Gilda singing Caro Nome in a balloon way above the stage, tethered by cables and hooks was not how I would have like the aria sung; but the soprano was singing so beautifully that I was quite mesmerized. I abhorred the Las Vegas Rigolette of the New York Metropolitan opera, but the Bregenz Festival Rigoletto, even though not as bad, comes close to a circus if there was one.