Friday, 13 April 2012

Rigoletto at the movies - why this one's unique

Rigoletto LIVE from the Royal Opera House on Tuesday 17th April at HD cinemas all over the world.  Note, it's "live", which is significant. It's not a rerun of a DVD but as close as you can get to being in the theatre, which for most people in the world is the way it is. There are lots of reasons why people can't go live, but watching live is not like watching at home or to listening to a recording.  Recordings are sometimes treated as sacred relics, but they are nothing more than a moment preserved by technology. Every performance is unique. And live is drama.The current ROH Rigoletto is worth seeing because it is different and opens out new perspectives, even if you know the opera extremely well.  This time the Bad Guy almost steals the show!

 John Eliot Gardiner and Vittorio Grigolo are the reasons. Gardiner isn't constrained by received wisdom of what Verdi should sound like. He knows what the Renaissance was like and understands how Verdi captures that boisterous spirit. Verdi doesn't like the court at Mantua, or even the Church in which Rigoletto places his faith. Gardiner doesn't mistake surface glamour for what's really going on in the music. Verdi is pitting us against the Duke of Mantua and all he stands for.

Grigolo is a megastar but the reason for seeing him is the way he creates the personality of the Duke of Mantua. Good performance is much more than singing. People often mistake persona for person, and assume that a role "must" reflect the person singing it. But the Duke of Mantua is so evil that you're supposed to feel repelled. This is definitely not a role to be sung as romantic hero. Don't be misled by the elaborate bravura displays. Grigolo knows that they're there for show, to distarct from the ugliness within.  It may risk his popular image, but he's doing his job extremely well. Come out of Rigoletto admiring the Duke and you're a fool. Gardiner is the moral force, against which Grigolo's Duke is duelling. Gardiner's vigour and Grigolo's flamboyance are therefore perfectly matched. This is a highly principled interpretation of the opera, which gets straight to its meaning.

Read more about why the HD screening should not be missed HERE in Opera Today. 

No comments: