Rigoletto – Verdi – Vienna State Opera
Oh what a disaster. Anything that could go wrong indeed did go wrong and it wasn’t the fault of the opera company! The original Gilda had cancelled and the American soprano, Andrea Carroll, who has performed at Garsington, provided some of the best singing as Gilda, in an otherwise sparse vocal evening.
Jongmin Park, a former young singer at the ROH, was a suitably bassfull Sparafucile. Nadia Krasteva was a barely audible Maddalena, with a somewhat awkward acting ability, but the real disappointments were the cancellations of Joseph Calleja as the Duke and the replacement of the Rigoletto of the wonderful Christopher Maltman, who was palpably unwell.
The German lyric tenor, Attilio Glaser, replaced Calleja. Whilst he had an ardent approach, his somewhat thin unschooled voice strained, particularly in the lower register. Christopher Maltman only lasted for the first two acts and was subsequently replaced by the Italian baritone, Paolo Rumetz. Such a shame, as Maltman’s Rigoletto is normally worth travelling to see.
The Music Director was a true Verdi Conductor, Giampaolo Bisanti, who ensured good pace and action throughout and was probably the star of the night, together with the Vienna Opera Orchestra. However, the chorus was poor, leaving one thankful for the quality of the choruses at the various opera houses in the UK.
As for Pierre Audi’s production, it threatened so much, but we received so little. This was reflected by two separate events, particularly in Act 2. Firstly, Gilda was lowered onto the stage from the rafters in a ridiculous tardis-like box. Secondly, the night time lighting, with Rigoletto holding the ladder unknowingly on the wall of his neighbour’s house because it was so dark, was a scene lit by the rays of every lamp in the auditorium. This was simply nonsensical.
There was much more in a similar vein, which really worked against any truly positive comments in relation to this production.
As a final note, sadly the theatre was looking dated, dour and dirty. A shame for this grand 1,700 seat auditorium.