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<<  -- 2 --  Mike Wheeler    AN ELECTRIFYING PRODUCTION

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Rafael Rojas's ringingly Italianate Duke sang 'Questa o quella' slumped in a big leather-covered armchair -- his relentless pursuit of women now just a joyless, compulsive routine. Rising thrillingly to the big moments, he also scaled back when appropriate.

Brindsley Sherratt's dark-toned, Sparafucile was particularly effective in his first encounter with Rigoletto, calmly business-like and sinisterly nihilistic at the same time. Rebecca de Pont Davies's Maddalena suggested a character mustering as much spirit as she could under the circumstances; her appearance as Gilda's chaperone in Act 1, though, was dramatically improbable. Stephen Richardson pronounced Monterone's curse with baleful implacablity.

Above all, it's the ensemble qualities that make this production so exciting, with both smaller roles and chorus uniformly well sung. Occasional moments of imprecision between voices and orchestra, notably in the Duke's Act 1 duet with Ceprano's wife, were no more than superficial blemishes.

Summers and Bonde-Hansen didn't quite overcome my nagging feeling that the final Rigoletto-Gilda duet is something of an anti-climax. But overall this is an electrifying production, strongly sung, with vivid orchestral playing, and crisply conducted by Martin André.

Copyright © 21 November 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK

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