[Met Performance] CID:255560
Rigoletto {564} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/11/1978.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 11, 1978


RIGOLETTO {564}
Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Rigoletto...............Ingvar Wixell
Gilda...................Gail Robinson
Duke of Mantua..........Neil Shicoff
Maddalena...............Isola Jones
Sparafucile.............Jerome Hines
Monterone...............Vern Shinall
Borsa...................James Atherton
Marullo.................Mario Bertolino
Count Ceprano...........Philip Booth
Countess Ceprano........Loretta Di Franco
Giovanna................Ariel Bybee
Page....................Alma Jean Smith
Guard...................Glenn Bater

Conductor...............Giuseppe Patanč

Review of William Bassell in the Kingman (Brooklyn College)

Classic Verdi at Met

Verdi's "Rigoletto" is quite justly considered one of the greatest operas ever written. Its plot, a melodramatic tale about a licentious Duke who lusts after the virginal daughter of his court jester, a depraved hunchback, is enough to sicken even the most ardent of soap opera lovers. Such considerations, however, are completely washed away in the flood of Verdi's exhilarating music.

The production the Metropolitan Opera is presenting these days is an interesting one. The sets center around a large castle-like structure, which turns to reveal different sections for the different scenes. The most impressive of these is the setting for Act Two, when the stage is fully lit, revealing a scintillatingly resplendent Renaissance living room. The third act scene, too, deserves special mention for its eerie mysteriousness. The costumes, designed (as were the sets) by Tanya Moiseiwitch, are remarkably realistic and earn extra credit for their individuality.

The superb lighting by Gil Wechsler (including some fabulous lightning flashes in Act Three) went hand in hand quite well with the generally intelligent stage direction of the Met's Director of Productton, John Dexter. Dexter has a true sense of opera as being real theater, not just a "stand-up-and-sing" affair, and he directs it as such.

One is always impressed by the Metropolitan's superb group of supporting singers. James Atherton as Borsa, Phillip Booth as Ceprano, Loretta de Franco as Countess Ceprano, Ariel Bybee as Giovanna and Alma Jean Smith as a page sang so well that one longs to hear them in more substantial roles. Booth, in particular, revealed a rich voice with much potential for advancement in the ranks. The once exception to this trend of excellence was Maurillo, sung by Mario Bertolino, who sang rather unsteadily. Whatever happened to the reliable Robert Goodloe, who used to sing this role so well and so often?

The principal singers were for the most part well versed in their roles. In the title role Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell sang with a rather grainy sort of tone which was not wholly inappropriate to the part. He exhibited some really stunning "mezza voci" in "Veglia a donna," and demonstrated a strong unerring sense of drama throughout. The role of the Duke of Mantua was sung with unrelenting brio by Neil Shicoff, an up and coming American tenor who, with some refinement, will definitely take his place among the more important singers of today. The attractive Gail Robinson was a sensitive but chirpy Gilda - eminently competent but hardly distinguished, while Isola Jones was bewitchingly seductive in both appearance and voice as Sparafucile's sister. Sparafucile himself was sung by Jerome Hines, whose voice after over 30 years with the Met, is still as excellent as ever. Vern Shinall sang the role of Count Monterone with a powerful but unfocused baritone which occasionally sounded forced.



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