6 September 2012

Rigoletto at Grimeborn

My final visit to Grimeborn 2012 was to see Rigoletto, not because I wanted to see a modern interpretation of this famous opera but simply because I had not seen it before and felt that I should.

As with other Grimeborn productions the small tent setting meant a simple stage, actors who come up close and all but touch you and a reduced musical accompaniment. This time there was just a piano to convey Verdi's music and that worked so well that it was easy to forget that you were meant to be listening to a full orchestra.

The story of Rigoletto is good operatic fare. Rigoletto, a hunchback, has a very attractive daughter who he keeps secret and hidden. The Duke he works for chases women with a passion he shares with Don Giovanni. Various courtiers are to get Rigoletto for the fun he makes of them. A man uses his stunning sister as a honey trap to catch and kill men for money.

They are all pretty ruthless and possibly all deserve to die, except for Rigoletto's daughter. You can guess what happens.

The three main parts are Rigoletto, his daughter and the Duke.

Rigoletto had some voice problems in the first half for which apologies were given in the interval. The magic half-time lemon worked and the second half was much better.

Those few splutters forgiven and forgotten, the main roles all sang beautifully with the Duke shading it on points.

The Duke, played by Nicholas Sales, probably won the acting points too for the lascivious way he strutted on stage and then the way that he snuck up to Rigoletto's daughter and won her heart.

The sultry woman who set the honey traps is also worthy of a mention for, well, being sultry. She was utterly convincing in her role, i.e. you could see why men fell in to the trap. The one bit of dubious casting was Rigoletto's daughter who, in real life, is around the same age as her supposed father and no amount of make-up could convince us otherwise. But this is opera, not a documentary, so things like that do not matter overly much.

There were some aspects of the staging that I did not like that much, such as the use of noisy scaffolding for Rigoletto's home, but these were just niggles in a superb production.

This was grand opera delivered on a small scale but with all the essential ingredients intact. Sometimes less is more and there was nothing reduced or redacted about this version.

It was good to finish Grimeborn 2012 on such a high note and that means that I'll be looking to making several visits to Grimeborn 2013.

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