Is it possible to bring together the three titles which define the “popular Verdi trilogy” with a common thread that unites them, and a single directing and dramaturgical style? Francesco Micheli, the maestro Fabio Luisi, and the Maggio believe so, convinced that the “trilogy” presents Giuseppe Verdi as one of the nation’s fathers. “That thread that unites, passes and weaves the plots, taking on the colours of our flag, leads the “trilogy” to become a polyptych of intense colours, which tells us what we are, that which we should be, or rather that which we want to be. Green is the colour which portrays Rigoletto: ambiguity, jealousy and anger are green the colour which is often attributed to these conditions and states of mind. (Francesco Micheli, director)
Opera in three acts
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave from Le Roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo
First performance: March 11, 1851 at Teatro La Fenice di Venezia
Mantua, 16th century. During a ball at the palace, the Duke reveals to the courtier Matteo Borso, that he has decided to meet the beautiful girl he has seen for the past three months in a church. Meanwhile, he is courting the Countess of Ceprano, while the hunchbacked jester Rigoletto mocks the husbands of the women the Count is seducing. The knight Marulla reveals to the court that the jester has a lover. Then Rigoletto derides the sorrow of the Count of Monterone, whose daughter has been dishonoured by the Duke, and the scene ends with the Count cursing both Rigoletto and the Duke. Distraught, the jester heads towards his home and after refusing the services offered by the assassin Sparafucile, he embraces his daughter Gilda who he has kept hidden from the world. When he leaves, the girl's nanny Giovanna lets in the Duke, now dressed as a poor student named Gualtier Maldè, who declares his love for Gilda. When the courtiers arrive set on kidnapping Gilda who they mistakenly believe is Rigoletto’s lover, she sends the young man away, thinking that her father has returned. The jester, believing that they are there to kidnap the Countess of Ceprano, offers his help realising the deception only when he hears Gilda’s desperate cries.
At the Palace, the courtiers tell the Duke that they have successfully kidnapped Rigoletto’s mistress, but the Duke realises from their description of the girl that it is Gilda and he runs to find her in the room where she had been locked. The jester enters looking for his daughter and when she tells him of her plight, he swears revenge.
Rigoletto takes Gilda to the tavern on the Mincio where the Duke is courting Sparafucile’s sister, Maddalena. Rigoletto orders his daughter to dress in man’s clothing and leave the city, then pays the assassin to kill the Duke. Instead, Maddalena convinces her brother to keep the money but save the Duke, and kill in his place the first person to knock on the door. Gilda, still in love, has heard everything and decides to sacrifice her own life for her beloved. Rigoletto returns to collect the cadaver to throw it into the river and hears the Duke’s song in the distance. He then opens the sack and discovers the dying Gilda, who begs forgiveness for herself and the Duke.
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born in Le Roncole di Busseto, near Parma, on October 10, 1813. He learned the rudiments of music by playing the organ in the local parish and in 1832, thanks to the patronage of Antonio Barezzi he moved to Milan, despite not being admitted to the Conservatory. Oberto conte di San Bonifacio, his first opera, is staged with moderate success at La Scala in 1839 but it is Nabucco, three years later, that is his first great triumph. After many masterpieces, including Ernani (1844) and Macbeth(1847), between 1851 and 1853 is born the so-called "popular trilogy": Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata. He received important commissions from abroad: Les vêpres siciliennes (Paris, 1855), La forza del destino (St. Petersburg, 1862), Don Carlos (Paris, 1867) and Aida(Cairo, 1871). After the Requiem Mass (1874), Otello(1887) and Falstaff (1893), he died in Milan on January 27, 1901.