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<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Patric Standford    SORDID FEROCITY

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From the outset, the portrayal of Rigoletto by Jonathan Summers is rich and dramatic, every word a shaft of lightening, and Linda Richardson gives a superlative performance as his daughter with a voice of superb range and clarity throughout. In her great Caro nome aria she achieves that ease and subtle tenderness that makes it far more than a technical display. The Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas, no stranger to Opera North, was Il Duca, a commanding actor with a scorching voice who delivered the famous La donna è mobile with the kind of complacent conceit that encourages resentment, and Leah-Marian Jones was making a very welcome Opera North début as Maddalena, a role that was occasionally in the past turned down by singers who wanted an aria and its consequent applause -- and there isn't one. But Jones held well this vital character and played a formidable part in the final Act quartet, justifiably the best ensemble Verdi ever achieved. Her brother is the assassin Sparafucile which, whilst being like Maddalena a relatively minor role, is a wonderful creation, sung in this production by the fine bass Clive Bayley with rough tragic arrogance.

Linda Richardson as Gilda and Jonathan Summers as Rigoletto. Photo © 2007 Richard Moran
Linda Richardson as Gilda and Jonathan Summers as Rigoletto. Photo © 2007 Richard Moran

Stephen Richardson was Monterone, and his brief appearance was fiery, for it delivered the curse that haunts Rigoletto (the opera was originally called La maledizione) and his appearance in the opera's first scene to avenge his own daughter's seduction by Il Duca turns into a savage treatment of both of them at the hands of his squalid gang -- his daughter played bravely by Nicola Unwin, suffering the indignity of having her cloths torn from her and being thrown onto the body of her mutilated father. A sordid production indeed, but a valid and effective treatment of a subject that is none too far from our own city centres even now.

Linda Richardson as Gilda and Jonathan Summers as Rigoletto. Photo © 2007 Richard Moran
Linda Richardson as Gilda and Jonathan Summers as Rigoletto. Photo © 2007 Richard Moran

The final Act was outstanding, a great compliment to Verdi who managed the moaning wind (wordless chorus anticipating Ravel, Delius and Debussy) and the ferocious storm with great skill, and all this thrill was sustained to the end in the wrecked caravan, with Rigoletto's discovery that the body in the bag is not Il Duca, but his daughter. Interesting that for many years this final scene was omitted, partly because of the prima donna not wishing to sing in a body bag, and partly because her usual physical attributes proved too much for a disabled Rigoletto to drag across the stage! No such problems here. The conductor was Mark Shanahan who encouraged great breadth and warmth from Opera North's fine orchestra, and the chorus played its vital part both on and off stage impressively.

Copyright © 19 May 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK

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OPERA NORTH'S 'LES NOCES' AND 'DIDO AND AENEAS'

MIKE WHEELER'S REVIEW OF THE ORIGINAL 2006 OPERA NORTH 'RIGOLETTO'

MIKE WHEELER'S REVIEWS OF 'ORFEO' AND 'THE MAGIC FLUTE'

MIKE WHEELER'S REVIEW OF OPERA NORTH'S 'THE ELIXIR OF LOVE'

PATRIC STANDFORD'S REVIEW OF OPERA NORTH'S 'THE MAGIC FLUTE'

PATRIC STANDFORD'S REVIEW OF OPERA NORTH'S 2006 'PETER GRIMES'

PATRIC STANDFORD'S REVIEW OF OPERA NORTH'S 'LA VOIX HUMAINE'

OPERA NORTH

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