To see Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, one no longer
has to go as far as London. All one has to do is to go to a local cinema to
watch a Live Relay of the performance.
One advantage is that while
viewing one can relax in one’s khaki shorts instead of having to suffocate in
one’s elegant Sunday best. In some ways the situation is not so different
from viewing an opera’s television transmission at home. Another advantage,
though, is the close-ups that bring one within touching distance of the actors.
One more advantage is the cast of superstars assembled for this performance,
such as is rarely encountered at the local opera or at standard television opera
In the title role, Dimitri Platanias was an overpowering
stage personality. His sonorous baritone was even darker and more powerful than
Sparafucile’s not-quite-so-black bass, represented by Matthew Rose. Rigoletto’s
final outcry “La maledizione” was the performance’s real, powerful climax.
Vittorio Grigolo’s radiant lyric tenor impersonated a glorious Duke of Mantua,
with abundant subtle and impressive vocal nuances, making everybody, on stage
and in the audience, fall in love with him.
Ekaterina Siurina, as Gilda,
was a rare case of an irresistibly lovely, young-sounding soprano matching her
looks, both of which were obviously not wasted on either the Duke or the
audience. Christine Rice’s warm, suggestive mezzo-soprano sounded just as
seductive as Maddalena is supposed to be.
David McVicar’s direction and
Michael Vale’s sets were moderately realistic without crowding the stage with
unnecessary details. In the dying scene, though, the conventional tomato ketchup
was not renounced, rendering this sad situation unappetizing instead of
Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, the ROH Orchestra played with
enormous energy as well as subtlety, pointedly emphasizing the musical drama
with utmost force and sensitivity.