Yes, Verdi in Las Vegas. The Met’s new production of Rigoletto had me worried. I listened to Rigoletto several times this past season via online stream and thought it sounded wonderful, but I had not seen the new production; so Michael Mayer’s re-conceptualization of Rigoletto’s world was lost to me. Until now.
I have to hand it to Mayer. His ideas for Rigoletto—planting this opera in the Las Vegas of the 1950s/1960s allowed me to see parts of the characters that I’ve never seen before. I saw the lounge-lizard qualities of each man that I might not see in a more traditional staging. Let’s face it, each male character in Rigoletto is a player; every man on stage is playing—playing a part with and against all of the other men, playing with/toying with/manipulating the women. This opera is really all about manipulation to the ultimate limits. I’ve never doubted Rigoletto’s love for Gilda, but there’s a strong undercurrent of manipulation there, as well. The Duke? He’s the ultimate manipulator. Ceprano? He’s hiding behind a facade, just like every other guy who sings in Rigoletto …
Perhaps the one character who stays true to his character from the beginning of the story is Sparafucile, and that is a shuddering thought.
So, yes. I thoroughly enjoyed Mayer’s conceptualization of Rigoletto. I saw things this time around that were new and enlightening. It’s always a joy to find something new in an “old” opera!
Of course, Lucic and Damrau were brilliant. Personally, I thought Štefan Kocán sang a beautiful Sparafucile! His voice is so resonant, and he acted the part stupendously!
Well done, Met! Well done!