Having watched a few full length opera productions, I went in to see the screening of Rigoletto by the Metropolitan Opera with more knowledge, confidence and also a more discerning eye and ear. Rigoletto was the second opera in a series of Metropolitan Opera productions screened in high definition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).
Thankfully, I took the time to familiarize myself with the opera by Giuseppe Verdi since this particular staging deviated from the norm and moved the setting to
Vegas during the 1960’s. As always, I viewed this
production with the desire to know if the material would still hold up and be
relevant in current times.
One thing that definitely worked with this Rigoletto was the stellar cast led by Željko Lučić in the title role. His Rigoletto was annoying at first but one could eventually feel his pain when tragedy fell upon him. Piotr Beczala’s portrayal of the Duke was spot on as well. He showed what an arrogant prick he was that one could easily hate. But his charm that made everyone swoon over him could not be denied. Lastly, Diana Damrau’s Gilda embodied youthful giddiness that made her aria Caro nome more memorable. I really adored her when she bit her lip in the midst of the aria and it made me realize that most audience members inside the Met would not have seen that. I was thankful at that moment for close up shots or else, I would’ve missed that nice touch as well. It was also interesting to see Štefan Kocán part of the cast again since he was also in Aida.
Moving the setting to
Las Vegas looked
like a perfect fit for Rigoletto at first glance. The decadence along with the
seduction and betrayal in the opera is very much in line with the reputation of the Sin City. But
the superstition element that goes with the curse that Rigoletto felt haunted
him was a bit hard to reconcile with. Also, the ending could’ve been a lot different
since the automobile would be able to rush the wounded Gilda to the nearest hospital in the 1960's. Alas, the father and daughter just resorted to singing it out. I just told myself to overlook these details and not let them ruin my
satisfaction with the stellar performances of the main cast.
The running time of the screening was a lot longer than usual. While Aida had the behind the scenes footage showing during the actual intermission, Rigoletto had them separate instead. This enabled people to go on bathroom breaks without missing any of the bonus stuff. Behind the scenes footage from Rigoletto consisted of interviews with the main cast (Lučić, Beczala and Damrau), director Michael Mayer, set designer Christine Jones and costume designer Susan Hiferty by Renée Fleming. I wish that the conductor Michele Mariotti was also interviewed but unfortunately, he wasn't. A preview of Parsifal was also shown alongside with interviews with the leads Jonas Kaufman and Katarina Dalayman. Unfortunately, the viewers inside the theater who were intrigued by this production had to be disappointed since Parsifal is not part of the screenings offered by the CCP.
I’ve always wanted to see a drastic and radical interpretation of a well known opera to see how the material could be handled and given a new spin. And this screening of Rigoletto managed to satisfy this curiosity. The Metropolitan Opera in HD series at the CCP continues with L’Elisir d’Amore on
May 28, 2013
with screenings starting at