Given the high seriousness of Verdi’s operas, particularly the later adaptations of Shakespeare’s tragedies, it is easy to forget just how tuneful he is.
For example, as the orchestra struck up the four bar phrases of La Donne e mobile, I could hear audience members humming in anticipation of the Duke’s entry.
Causing a great scandal because of its immorality in the 1850s, Rigoletto comes from Verdi’s middle period (with La Traviata and Il Trovatore).
The tragedy, of course, is that Rigoletto, the eponymous hero, does not realise that you cannot protect your children from the world and its corruptions: sooner or later, the world intrudes.
Andrei Borisenko’s acting as the conflicted jester, caught between being a cynic at court and a loving father at home, was the equal of any I have seen.
His rich baritone was consistent with the excellent singing throughout the cast.
Contrasting with the dour Rigoletto, The Duke of Mantua is an amoral babe magnet.
Damir Zakirov took risks with the upper register of his tenor range which did not always come off, but I prefer an honourable attempt to inject innovation to a safe, but dull same-old.
At the curtain calls, I was amused to hear audience members entering into the spirit of the production by good-naturedly booing the character, but applauding the singer.
Tatyana Zakirov as Gilda has a pure soprano voice, and sang particularly well in Caro Nome, thrilling the audience with her controlled coloratura. Gilda’s later sacrifice in throwing herself on the assassins knife to save the Duke is, of course, pure melodrama.
Most of the modernist adaptations of opera are attempts to remove melodrama. I say: leave it in and let’s wallow.
Some minor issues: a ‘marble’ column undulated in an off-stage draft and our hearts sopped as a curtain stalled before Act 2 Scene2.
But these were unimportant technical issues where the staging was otherwise good: colourful costumes, carefully matched surtitles and atmospheric lighting.
All this, and a 30- piece orchestra.
Well done those enterprising people at the Spa for bringing this to us.
Russian State Opera return to Scarborough in September with La Traviata.
Review by Mike Tilling