We were all anxiously awaiting the news on two important topics:
1. Would the famous baritone, Leo Nucci, appear in tonight’s cast?
2. Would the production be ‘traditional’ or ‘modern?’
Good news on both – yes to the first, traditional to the second.
The people in our tour group range from total opera freaks who have seen dozens of operas dozens of times, have hundreds of CDs, and know who the singers, directors and conductors were for most. They know so much they are not even embarrassed when they forget one or two names. They also know the first few words of most key arias!
They pronounced themselves highly satisfied with the production, though they had minor, technical quibbles. The rest of us just loved the opera, but we don’t have much expertise.The lead role of Rigoletto was, indeed, sung by Leo Nucci, clearly a crowd favorite. Looking at the Wikipedia link and others, he served a long apprenticeship before earning the love of this highly-partisan audience. During his career, he also has learned how to milk even more applause from an adoring audience. Still, it was deserved last night.
The traditional staging and costuming was absolutely breath-taking. Very Renaissance – gorgeous reds, golds, blacks. The swiftly-moving scenes kept to that theme. Orchestra was a bit weak at the beginning, but gained strength as the opera progressed.
The assassin Sparafucile was big and evil looking – just right for the part. Chorus was a bit restrained for my taste, but of course good. Sorry, the tenor singing the despicable Duke of Mantua must still be serving his apprenticeship.
The Gilda was fantastic – Jessica Pratt, from Australia. You never would have guessed her country of origin — she sounded very authentic and her voice was perfect. She is somewhat slimmer (now that she lives in La bell’Italia – all that walking don’t you know) than in the video below:
What with all the encores and prolonged applause, we didn’t get out of the theater until 11:30 pm, but our walk back to the Hotel Stendahl took just minutes. The night was a perfect musical start, after the perfect culinary start, to this excellent tour!