Giuseppe Verdi

Libretto Francesco Maria Piave after the play „Le roi s’amuse” by Victor Hugo
Language Italian Premiere 20th of February 2014
World premiere 11th of March 1851 Teatro La Fenice Venice
Conductor Vlad Conta
Directing Stephen Barlow
Scenography Yannis Thavoris
Lighting design Warren Letton
Choreography Victoria Newlyn
Master Chorus Daniel Jinga
Directing assistant Paula Gherghe
Lighting design assistant Ionuţ Pruteanu



Act I
Scene 1
Chicago, New Year’s Eve, 1929.

During the Prohibition, Rigoletto owns a speakeasy, under the Duke’s protection to whom he’s keen to entertain, most often on the other people’s expense. At a crazy party thrown for his men and their girlfriends the Duke brags about his great appetite for women. Moreover, he flirts with Ceprano’s wife right in front of him. Rigoletto mocks Ceprano’s hurt feelings, driving him to wish the buffoon’s retribution, so, when Marullo tells him that Rigolleto is rumoured to have a secret mistress, he starts thinking of a plan.

At one point that evening Monterone, a former member of the gang, storms in and publicly accuses the Duke of raping his daughter. Rigoletto makes fun of him as well, for the Duke’s amusement, but Monterone curses both of them and especially Rigoletto for his cruelty.

Scene 2

Later that evening, when Rigoletto returns home, he feels haunted by Monterone’s curse. His thoughts are interrupted by a stranger, Sparafucile, who offers his services as paid killer. Although he’s refused, Sparafucile leaves Rigoletto his phone number. Upon his leaving, Rigoletto contemplates on how both of them kill for living – Sparafucile using a gun and him using his sharp tongue.

As Rigoletto enters his home he’s welcomed by Gilda, his adolescent daughter, whom he tries to protect from the city’s bad influence. Still troubled by Monterone’s curse, Rigoletto demands her to stay in the house when she’s not at church, and instructs Giovanna to guard her well when he’s not around.

One day, when Rigoletto is at work, the Duke, who saw Gilda on her way to church, bribes Giovanna to let him into the house. He pretends to be a poor student and confesses his love to Gilda – she is surprised, but can’t help being fascinated by this man. When hearing noises in the street and, fearing it might be her father returning, Gilda implores the Duke to leave. Alone, in the balcony, she is thrilled by this new love.

But the noise in the street was made by Ceprano, Borsa and Marullo who, together with other Duke’s men, came to capture the young beauty believed to be Rigoletto’s mistress. On the verge of catching her, they see Rigoletto himself approaching. Marullo accosts him and tells him they want to kidnap Ceprano’s wife, and Rigoletto is more than happy to join the force.

He requests to wear a masque like all the other men, but Borsa makes it that way that Rigoletto can’t see or hear anything. He holds the stairs for the men to escalate the balcony; the gang captures Gilda and disappears. Suspicious, Rigoletto takes off his masque and discovers it was his own daughter who’s missing. Despaired, he remembers Monterone’s curse.

Act II
The Duke’s office at the speakeasy, the morning after.

The Duke found out of Gilda’s disappearance and is furious about it. His men come joyful to tell him that they had abducted Rigoletto’s mistress and they brought her to him, but the Duke realise that is Gilda they are talking about and can’t wait to spend some time alone with her. Rigoletto shows up as well and does his best to hide his distress while trying to find out where the men hid his daughter. He reveals that Gilda is in fact his daughter and threatens, then implores the men to tell him where she is. But they remain quiet and insensible, enjoying his grief and finding it avenging. Gilda runs out from the Duke’s office, where their love had been consumed, and she’s shocked and humiliated to find there her father. After the men exit, Gilda confesses her love for the Duke and Rigoletto, remembering Sparafucile’s offer, swears revenge, despite his daughter’s protests.

A week later, at Riverside hotel, a brothel. Night. Stormy weather.

According to the plan, Sparafucile’s sister, Maddalena, drew the Duke, disguised in sailor, to her brother’s hotel. Rigoletto brings Gilda as well to witness her lover’s true character and contempt for women. Gilda, candid child, is heart broken when she sees the Duke flirting with Maddalena. Rigoletto tells her to return home and to leave the town, safely, wearing man’s clothes. After her leaving, Rigoletto closes the deal with Sparafucile. He is supposed to come back to the hotel at midnight to take the Duke’s dead body in a sack and throw it in the river himself. Meanwhile Maddalena, who is falling for the Duke, changes her mind about his murder. She convinces her brother that, if another man enters the hotel, to kill him instead and to deliver this body in the sack.

Dressed in Rigoletto’s clothes, Gilda ignores her father’s advice and returns to the hotel alone to follow the Duke, whom she still loves. She overhears the change of plans and, in order to save the Duke, decides to enter the hotel and sacrifice herself. Rigoletto returns for the body and is about to throw the sack in the river when he hears the Duke’s voice back in the hotel. He’s terrified to discover his own daughter in the sack, and she still breathes! Before dying Gilda implores her father to forgive both her and the Duke.