It is rare that I go and see a Verdi opera without remembering the storyline. After studying the great Italian composer and his operas at university you would think the narrative of Rigoletto would stick in my head, but when I went to see the ENO production a few nights ago it was only the melodies which came to mind. Luckily I had my musical grandmother by my side to explain the plot when I got lost.
In brief the opera tells the tale of a cripple (Rigoletto) and his fair daughter (Gilda), who he locks away for protection. When Rigoletto’s boss (the Duke, a gross womaniser) spies the beautiful girl he sets about to find her. Discovering his daughter has been disgraced, Rigoletto is determined to get revenge on his boss once and for all, but unfortunately the murderer he hires kills the wrong person.
Jonathan Miller’s iconic production returns to the Coliseum for its 13th revival since the original run in September 1982. Over the last four decades this Miller vision of Rigoletto has become one of the most popular ENO show, never failing to thrill audiences. I am often not a fan of modern realisations of classic operas, but this production of Rigoletto manages to portray the story in a contemporary setting without losing the magic of Verdi’s score.
Nicholas Pallensen plays the title role for the first time and sings with gusto and emotional power. His voice is strong and his acting was hugely convincing. Sydney Mancasola makes her ENO debut as his daughter. Mancasola has a shrill voice which comes into its own during the Act III quartet. The Duke, played by Joshua Guerrero, is suitably charming, and his voice is beautifully velvety which I thought worked well for this lyrical Verdi role.
For opera lovers this production of Rigoletto is a must see, continuing at the ENO until 28 February, book tickets here.