Composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Three-act opera (1851)
Libret bt Francesco Maria Piave after “The King Spends” (“Le roi s’amuse”) by Victor Hugo
World premiere March 11, 1851, Teatro La Fenice, Venice
Spectacle performed in Italian, over-titrated in Romanian
The Duke of Mantua spends his time telling his adventures while his buffoon, Rigoletto, mocks the deceived husbands. At the entrance of Monterone, who accuses the Duke of seducing her daughter, Rigoletto asks permission to respond. His mocking words draw the curse of the old parent. The courtiers, knowing that Rigoletto secretly attends a young woman, decides to play a hoax, kidnapping her mistress.
Rigoletto keeps his secret, meditating on the bustle of destiny. He does not suspect that his daughter, Gilda (whom he keeps hidden), has seen the Duke and that there was a mysterious love between the two. She just stays with the nurse, Gilda meets him; the two young men – the girl and the Duke who are traveled in a poor student – change the words of love. The courtiers reveal him in the darkness of the street on Rigoletto, and by choking him, they help him to kidnap Gilda. Too late he will realize that he has participated in his own pity. Rigoletto feels the pressure of the curse.
Gilda was taken to the Duke‘s apartment. When Rigoletto comes, everyone pretends to know nothing. He spies, seeks to find out and breaks out late, asking his daughter back. Gilda escapes from the Duke‘s room and, through tears, tells him what has happened. Rigoletto swears revenge, and thinks of the help Sparfucile can help, met at night on the streets of Mantua.
The Duke of Mantua is attracted to Maddalena, the sister of Sparafucile, in a drenched inn, to be killed. Intimidated at the last moment by his sister, who likes the young man, Sparafucile will kill any other traveler. Gilda and her father watched the scene from the inn. The girl returns alone and knocks at the door; the knife hits her. Rigoletto, desirous of enjoying his vengeance, opens the sack in which the slain was laid and discovers his own child. The curse of Monterone reached the innocent: the buffoon.
(by Grigore Constantinescu, The Splendor of the Opera – lyrical theater dictionary, revised and added edition, Didactic and Pedagogical Edition, 2008)