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The Scottish Rigoletto 2011/05/15

Posted by Daddy Dave in Music, Musings, nights out, Reviews.
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[Picture of Scottish Opera Rgoletto Poster]Mummy Ruth bought tickets for really good seats for “Rigoletto” at the Theatre Royal before Christmas, so we have been looking forward to this for quite a while.

It is difficult to get to proper opera with small children.  We make do with Classical Concerts for Children, but we cannot keep away forever, can we?  Scottish Opera is also — for us — still something of a gamble, when we remember “The Magic Flute” fiascos — but having said that,  “La Bohème” was pretty good, and “Tosca” was a good night out. Strange to think that these were BEFORE we were married — that’s seven years ago. Shockerooni!

Something had to happen!  I’ve always liked “Rigoletto” — it’s a real mannish opera, and one for the lads.  No dying hookers in this one, nothing soppy or silly.  The story is actually pretty good, ambition, double-crossings, humiliation and murder — with a twist in the end.

The big hit is “La Donna é Mobile”, I suppose.  This is brilliant Verdi irony — the duke sings that women are fickle, that they keep changing their mind like a feather on the wind, and yet it is the opposite in this opera.  “Rigoletto” has strong-minded, determined and anything-but-fickle women — whereas the men are double-crossing, mind-changing, and lying seducers — with no constancy, loyalty or gravitas.

Rigoletto himself is a jester — a figure of fun, a comedian, a joker, a fool — he represents all men who try in vain to reconcile lustful womanising with respect for a mother, protection of a daughter and partnership with a wife.

[Picture taken from seats at Theatre Royal Glasgow]Now, I am not sure what happened — it might have been financial cut-backs, it might just have been a lack of spirit or imagination by Scottish Opera — or even another Scottish Opera attempt to be “innovative”, who knows?

The first act was sadly quite disappointing — I think it was because it was a very sparse set, with no evidence of any money having been spent.  I’ve seen more investment, love and effort in a primary school play.  So the beginning was unsure, uncertain and unconvincing, and I suspect it is because of these low production values — to me, everyone seemed ashamed or apologetic, or maybe just unsupportedEdgaras Montvidas was vague, faint and lacked authority. Eddie Wade was a sad clown with the emphasis on sad.  His Rigoletto dragged.  I was yawning. The audience was more interesting.  I was distracted by just about anything that showed some life. Sheesh.

A welcome twenty minute interval brought a stretch of the legs, a drink and a fresh start for the rest of the show — I bet Swedish Conductor Tobias Ringborg had had “a word” in the dressing room, because his team came out with a spring in their step.  It was an opera of two halves.

The whole thing picked up and the entire opera was rescued for the last two acts. Wade got on his game, so did Montvidas. Soprano “Gilda” was played by Nadine Livingston — and she was perfect in the role, although she deserves to play a big diva role soon. Seems she’s sixteenth on the list of most eligible women in Scotland 2010!

Mezzo-Soprano, “Maddalena” was given a colourful Diana Dors character by Louise Collett — and she was excellent, although I have never before seen someone have their knickers removed during a seduction scene! — And she has some trouble getting these skimpies back on when her assassin brother arrived to interrupt the seduction.

My all-time fave scene in opera — the bit I had been waiting for — “Bella figlia dell’amore” was superb, all the voices had been warmed and readied for this scene. I loved it. And I am glad I finally got to see it live!

Lots of things didn’t add up though — why the shop mannequins? why were they eventually disfigured? What was the point of disco balls? And if you didn’t know the story beforehand, you would wonder why the Duke was getting away with all the womanising — and why all these “gentlemen” were so over dressed and going about as a crowd with a sparkly-jacketed ruffian with a comb-over! While it was a very bible black, grey, Presbyterian and Thrifty — terribly Scottish, overall, however, it was good to be back at the opera!

We closed off the night with a delicious meal and a pub-crawl. Perfect night!  Thanks granny for babysitting!


1. Gerard - 2011/07/01

Brilliant Review!
I really enjoyed reading it.

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