Marshall Performing Arts Center
This opera is not recommended for children younger than 13 years old.
An opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
This is an opera about revenge gone horribly wrong.
When it’s your job to humiliate people for the amusement of your boss. . .
When your boss is a womanizer who turns his attention to your daughter,
And you realize that you’ve alienated everyone you know,
Revenge seems like the only answer.
Dirk Meyer, Music Director
Dorothy Danner, Stage Director
Ann Gumpper, Scenic Designer and Painter
Ora Jewell Busche, Costume, Hair, and Makeup Designer
Alex Flinner, Lighting Designer
Kristian Piña, Stage Manager
Lauren Cecil-Fischer, Wig and Makeup Designer
Jeanne Doty – Rehearsal pianist
Rigoletto – John Pierce
Duke – John Cudia
Gilda – Sarah Lawrence
Borsa – Cal Metts
Marullo – Cory Renbarger
Ceprano – James Olson
Countess Ceprano – Jennifer Robbins
Sparafucile – Andrew Gangestad
Maddalena – Anna Hashizume
Monterone – Jeffrey Madison
Giovanna – Alice Pierce
Page – Janel Mercado
Usher – Dan Maki
A party is in full swing at the Duke’s palace. The Duke is telling Borsa about a mysterious woman he’s been following home from church. He brags of his many amorous conquests, then he flirts with the Countess Ceprano, while his jester, Rigoletto, mocks the Count. It is clear that Rigoletto’s main function is to humiliate the courtiers for the amusement of the Duke. Marullo arrives and tells everyone that he’s discovered that Rigoletto has a mistress. Ceprano is still furious with Rigoletto for the earlier insults about his wife, so he reminds the courtiers how much they all hate the jester. They devise a plan to abduct the woman they believe to be Rigoletto’s mistress. Monterone comes in, furious with the Duke for seducing his daughter. Rigoletto mocks him, and the Duke laughs. As Monterone is led away, he casts an awful curse on both of them.
Monterone’s curse is weighing heavily on Rigoletto’s mind. He has a chance encounter with Sparafucile and Maddalena. Sparafucile is an assassin for hire who offers his services to Rigoletto. Rigoletto says “not right now,” and spends some time alone, considering the similarities between them. . . Rigoletto wounds with his tongue just as Sparafucile wounds with the knife. The curse is constantly on Rigoletto’s mind.
His mood lightens as he enters his garden and greets his daughter, Gilda. She is very lonesome, as Rigoletto insists that she never leave the house – except for church. She asks him to tell her about her mother and he refuses. He is distracted with worry about Gilda’s safety and he orders the nurse, Giovanna, never to let anyone in. By this time, the duplicitous Giovanna has already decided to help the mysterious stranger who is frequently lurking outside. The Duke sneaks in as Rigoletto leaves, and Gilda is astonished to find this man – whom she has seen each week at church – right here in her garden. They sing of their love for each other. Noises are heard and fearing her father’s return, Gilda begs the Duke to flee. Alone, she sings about the wonders of this new love as the courtiers sneak in and kidnap her! Rigoletto has been tricked into helping in the abduction of his own daughter under the guise that they are abducting Ceprano’s wife. He removes his blindfold to find Gilda is gone.
Back at the palace, the Duke sings of the loss of Gilda: he went back to her house and she was gone. He imagines her alone and afraid. When the courtiers arrive and announce that they have delivered Rigoletto’s “mistress” to the Duke’s bedroom. The Duke knows very well who it is and he goes to her. Rigoletto comes in and is mocked by the courtiers. He reveals that Gilda is his daughter and guesses they’ve taken her to the Duke. Gilda enters, and after the courtiers leave, she tells her father about the man she met at church, and how she came to be at the palace. Monterone is brought through. Contemplating the Duke’s portrait, he says, “My curse had no effect on you. May you live a long and happy life.” Rigoletto hears this and swears vengeance upon the Duke. Gilda, out of love, pleads for his forgiveness.
A month has passed. Rigoletto brings Gilda to a run-down inn near the river, where Sparafucile and Maddalena do business. Gilda declares to her father that she will always love the Duke. Rigoletto forces Gilda to watch as the Duke seduces Maddalena. Her heart broken, Gilda leaves to prepare for the journey to Verona. Rigoletto hires Sparafucile to kill the Duke, paying him half the money and promising the rest when he returns for the body. Unable to stay away, Gilda returns in time to hear Maddalena pleading with her brother to spare the Duke’s life. “Just kill Rigoletto instead,” she says. Sparafucile’s professional ethics won’t allow this, but he says he’d be willing to kill a stranger instead of the Duke if someone shows up by midnight. As a storm begins to rage, Gilda realizes what she must do. She knocks on the door and is stabbed. As the storm subsides, Rigoletto returns to claim the body. As he gloats over this victory, he hears the Duke’s voice. With horror, he discovers that the body is that of his own daughter. She pleads for forgiveness for herself and for the Duke before she dies. Rigoletto cries out that Monterone’s curse has been fulfilled.