Spectacular Kent brings opera to the masses

Verdi's Rigoletto

Verdi's Rigoletto

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Ellen Kent’s mantra is to bring opera to the masses and make it a spectacular experience – her production of Verdi’s Rigoletto is no exception.

The spectacular opening scene is set in the Duke of Mantua’s (Giorgi Meladze) palace where a party – orgy might be a better description – is taking place. On one side of the stage are a couple of greyhounds, on the opposite side a magnificent Golden Eagle, all behaving impeccably.

Not so the cast where several gentlemen are taking advantage of scantily clad, that is to say topless, females. Naked ladies being manhandled wasn’t quite what I expected but once accustomed to the sight I’m not sure why the men were not in a state of undress too or would this be a step too far?

Rigoletto is the court jester, and wonderfully portrayed by Vladimir Dragos. He is a sad character, hunchbacked, with no friends and his only love being his beautiful daughter, Gilda (Alyona Kistenyova).

Rigoletto isn’t liked by the courtesans and Monterone (Eugen Ganea), whose daughter is seduced by the Duke, is ridiculed by Rigoletto whereupon Monterone puts a curse on Rigoletto which causes him some disquiet.

As in all good operas there is a love story, and here Gilda is in love with a handsome man who follows her home from church.

She doesn’t know his name but thinks he is a student. He is actually the Duke of Mantua.

Meanwhile, Count Cepraii, angry at Rigoletto’s mockery, gets some of the courtesans to play a trick on him in return for always mocking them. They think Gilda is his lover and they decide to capture her and take her to the court...

An English translation is on display to help the audience understand the plot but the dramatic music and heartfelt singing captures the various moods admirably.

The fine accompaniment of the Orchestra of National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Moldova, conducted by the renowned Nicolae Dohotaru, completes an evening to remember.

Ellen Campbell