Verdi: Rigoletto, The Metropolitan Opera
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Piotr Beczala was a perfect duke, singing with style and the smiling assurance of a guy who knows he looks good in a dinner jacket (Bloomberg.com)
Piotr Beczala as the Duke was a breezy, sleazy leader of the Rat Pack, a Frank Sinatra-type lurching from bender to hookup. His arias were winning and convincing ... (Washington Times)
New DG signing, one of the greatest tenors in the world, Piotr Beczala, is the womanizing Duke in this new production of Verdis Rigoletto from the Metropolitan Opera.
Zeljko Lueiæ sings the title role and Diana Damrau sings Rigolettos daughter Gilda
This DVD release appears in the Verdi year 2013, as music lovers around the world celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Italys beloved composer
Director Michael Mayer has placed his new production of Verdis towering tragedy in Las Vegas in 1960 an ideal setting for this eternal conflict of depravity and innocence
[Piotr Beczala is] one of todays most exciting young singers . . . Tall, trim and handsome, with a Hollywood smile, he also emits some of the most beautiful sounds to be heard on the current opera stage. (Opera News)
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I am normally not a fan of updating settings and costumes to this level of extreme, but this production works brilliantly. It came at the height of the MAD MEN series on AMC Mad Men: Season 1 and provides a new mirror of that sexist era. What also helps enormously is the perfect cast of singers with great acting talent and the fact that they all totally enjoyed themselves on stage in this production. Piotr Beczala, Zejlko Lucic, Diana Damrau, and Stefan Kocan all give brilliant performances in this production and were not overwhelmed by the flashy sets and the radical update. How could any tenor resist the opportunity to do the Duke's first aria like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-zXLKd76fk
The absolute highlight was the "Bella figlia dell'amore" quartet....and Oksana Volkova and Stefan Kocan deserve special mention in this regard.
All in all....superb!
Everything from the Duke in a white dinner jacket to Sparafucille, the assassin, in his lair with a pole dancer worked. Friends looks at me blank stares when I told them Gilda was found not in a canal, but in the trunk of a Cadillac!
The Met always has perfect casts, the music is always glorious, and most of the time the sets are works of genius. Not always, but in this case YES!
Do not be turned away by what you think of a modernized Rigoletto. Relax, let yourself go, and enjoy.
Somehow I felt I understood the plot better after seeing this version, even though I have seen Rigoletto many times in the opera house. The cognoscenti are calling this the "Rat Pack Rigoletto".