Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Don Giovanni, Bavarian State Opera

All told, this was probably the best Don Giovanni I have seen and heard. Judging opera performances - perhaps we should not be ‘judging’ at all, but let us leave that on one side - is a difficult task: there are so many variables, at least as many as in a play and a concert combined, but then there is the issue of that ‘combination’ too.

A dance to life in Munich’s Indes galantes

Can one justly “review” a streamed performance? Probably not. But however different or diminished such a performance, one can—and must—bear witness to such an event when it represents a landmark in the evolution of an art form.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera at the Proms

For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.

Béatrice and Bénédict at Glyndebourne

‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera Béatrice and Bénédict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.

Der fliegende Holländer, Bavarian State Opera

‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.

Evergreen Baby in Colorado

Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.

Lean and Mean Tosca in Colorado

Someone forgot to tell Central City Opera that it would be difficult to fit Puccini’s (usually) architecturally large Tosca on their small stage.

Die Walküre, Baden-Baden

A cast worthy of Bayreuth made for an unforgettable Wagnerian experience at the Sommer Festspiele in Baden-Baden.

Des Moines’ Elusive Manon

Loving attention to the highest quality was everywhere evident in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Manon.

Falstaff in Iowa: A Big Fat Hit

Des Moines Metro Opera had (almost) all the laughs in the right places, and certainly had all the right singers in these meaty roles to make for an enjoyable outing with Verdi’s masterpiece

Die Fledermaus, Opera Holland Park

With the thermometers reaching boiling point, there’s no doubt that summer has finally arrived in London. But, the sun seems to have been shining over the large marquee in Holland Park all summer.

Nice, July 14, and then . . .

J.S. Bach’s cerebral Art of the Fugue in Aix, Verdi’s massive Requiem in Orange, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ ‘s fable of the camel, jackal, wolf and crow, Sophocles’ blind Oedipus Rex and the Bible’s triumphant Psalm No. 150 in Aix.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

The champagne corks popped at the close of this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House, with Prince Orlofsky’s celebratory toast forming a fitting conclusion to some superb singing.

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, ROH

Bryn Terfel is making a habit of performing Russian patriarchs at the Proms.

Des Moines’ Gluck Sets the Standard

What happens when just everything about an operatic performance goes joyously right?

Des Moines: Jewels in Perfect Settings

Two years ago, the well-established Des Moines Metro Opera experimented with a 2nd Stages program, with performances programmed outside of their home stage at Simpson College.

First Night of the Proms 2016

What to make of the unannounced decision to open this concert with the Marseillaise? I am sure it was well intended, and perhaps should leave it at that.

La Cenerentola, Opera Holland Park

In a fairy-tale, it can sometimes feel as if one is living a dream but on the verge of being awoken to a shock. Such is life in these dark and uncertain days.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in Aix

The tense, three hour knock-down-drag-out seduction of Beauty by Pleasure consumed our souls in this triumphal evening. Forget Time and Disillusion as destructors, they were the very constructors of the beauty and pleasure found in this miniature oratorio.

Pelleas et Mélisande in Aix

Three parallel universes (before losing count) — the ephemeral Debussy/Maeterlinck masterpiece, the Debussy symphonic tone poem, and the twisted intricacies of a moldy, parochially English country estate.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Anthony Michael-Moore (Rigoletto) and Michael Fabiano (Duke of Mantua) [Photo by Chris Christodoulou courtesy of English National Opera]
11 Oct 2009

Rigoletto at ENO

There is something quote refreshing about the fact that a staging as characterful as Jonathan Miller's 27-year-old “New York Mafia” Rigoletto is the nearest thing to a warhorse that ENO has in its repertoire.

Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto

Rigoletto: Anthony Michaels-Moore; Duke of Mantua: Michael Fabiano; Gilda: Katherine Whyte; Sparafucile: Brindley Sherratt; Monterone: Iain Paterson; Marullo: Daniel Hoadley; Borsa: Peter Van Hulle; Ceprano: James Gower. Conductor Stephen Lord; Director Jonathan Miller; Designers Patrick Robertson, Rosemary Vercoe; Lighting Designer Robert Bryan; Choreographer Tommy Shaw; Translation James Fenton.

Above: Anthony Michael-Moore (Rigoletto) and Michael Fabiano (Duke of Mantua)

All photos by Chris Christodoulou courtesy of English National Opera

 

It’s doubly refreshing this season to have Miller himself back to direct the revival, as he did last season with his Barber of Seville. It is in the detail that his influence is visible; the character inter-relationships are complex and clearly drawn, and for the first time I can recall, James Fenton’s classic translation is delivered in authentically-accented New York-ese instead of generic English RP. It all makes a difference.

The sets are looking a little dated (recreating the shapes and colours of the 1950s through 1982-tinted spectacles) and the lighting could do with a revamp. Both the backstreet outside Rigoletto's tenement block and the seedy riverside bar where Sparafucile makes his nefarious living are reliant upon lighting for their atmosphere, and at the moment it's all looking a bit dull and disinterested. But it remains a strong, tightly conceived show, with seemingly plenty of life left in it.

rigoletto_005.jpgKatherine Whyte (Gilda)

In the title role was the evening's real star turn: Anthony Michaels-Moore, too long absent from London’s stages and far, far too long absent from the Coliseum. Compared with some of his predecessors in this production whose physical presence have enabled them to dominate the stage overtly, Michaels-Moore is much more subtle; his Rigoletto is a grubby little man with an undercurrent of spite, embodying everything that is wrong with the world in which he lives. And his singing is just spectacular — a masterclass in Verdian line and phrasing.

In a trend becoming increasingly prevalent in ENO’s casting, the conductor and two of the key principals were imported from the other side of the Atlantic. (Don’t British singers have few enough home-grown opportunities as it is?) As Gilda, the young Canadian Katherine Whyte is a charming performer with a lovely limpid soprano and the ideal physique du role, but her voice is a good couple of sizes too small for this house and these colleagues, and instead of soaring over the top of ‘Si, vendetta’ (‘Yes, revenge’) and ‘Bella figlia dell’amore’ (‘If you want a faithful lover’) she was lost in the orchestral texture. I would very much like to hear her in this role again (well, really for the first time!) with one of the UK’s medium-sized companies, or perhaps here at the Coliseum again in a more sparsely scored opera — I see that most of her forthcoming work is in baroque and early classical repertoire.

rigoletto_003.jpgIan Paterson (Monterone) and Anthony Michaels-Moore (Rigoletto)

As the Duke, 25-year-old Michael Fabiano (from the USA) was a great deal more successful; a bright, brash, virile tenor with confidence and macho swagger in abundance. Only his very top notes had a tendency to be too bright, almost detached from the rest of his voice.

Company regulars took the other roles, with Brindley Sherratt’s darkly malevolent Sparafucile particularly outstanding. ENO Young Artist Madeleine Shaw was a credible Maddalena. Bass-baritone Iain Paterson (perhaps the brightest star to have emerged from the Young Artists’ Programme) is a little on the high side for Monterone and he didn’t quite manage the strength and firmness of tone which we are used to hearing from him.

rigoletto_011.jpgAnthony Michaels-Moore (Rigoletto) and Katherine Whyte (Gilda)

Stephen Lord, another American, conducted tautly and with brisk tempi for the most part; the only misjudgement was allowing Fabiano plenty of rubato in ‘La donna e mobile’ (‘Women abandon us’) — not an issue in itself, but inconsistent with Miller’s famous take on it whereby the Duke calls the song up on Sparafucile’s jukebox.

Ruth Elleson © 2009

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):