My daughter! God! My daughter! Gilda! are the cries in the last scene of Verdi’s Rigoletto where Warwick Fyfe as Rigoletto and Emma Pearson as daughter Gilda create an emotional, dramatic finale in NZ Opera’s modern ‘Italian mafia’ take on this great tale. The solemn ending is captured in photograph by Neil Mackenzie.
Rigoletto tells the tale from the perspective of a ‘fool’ Rigoletto who due to his unfortunate appearance uses his words to attack his fellow constituents and when this finally backfires his karmic comeuppance is devastatingly heart-wrenching.
The stage comes to life with Fyfe introducing us to Rigoletto. We then meet Duca di Mantova (Duke of Mantua) performed by Rafael Rojas, who sadly due to illness was not at the top of his game on the night and unfortunately failed to truly wow the audience. There is no mistaking Rojas talent which was certainly apparent in those high notes, and so hopefully he will be back in full form for the rest of the Auckland shows. On a more pleasant note, Pearson‘s coloratura soprano performance is incredible, clear, crisp and on pitch, sending tingles down your spine.
I found the operatic singing of Italian, breathtaking and the famous aria La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle) which has in recent times been performed by world renowned tenors such as Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, one of the highlights of the show. Another highlight is most certainly the quartet in which the Duke flirts with the barmaid Maddalena portrayed by Kristin Darragh and Rigoletto showing his daughter Gila the Duke’s true nature, this juxtaposed with the orchestra’s build-up is hair-raising.
Throughout the show you are enveloped by visual and aural splendour. The set and props have been masterfully crafted, beautiful lit with often challenging scenes including rotating stage and handheld torch lights. The Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra fill the theatre with tremendous warmth and ambience giving body and flavour to the whole night. All carefully guided by Director Lindy Hume and team.
For the average Opera novice this is a spectacular show full of emotion, passion, conviction and beauty, if you’ve never been, NZ Opera’s production of Rigoletto will not disappoint.
Tickets are on sale and range from $50 to $180 approx.