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»A comic opera that goes horribly wrong.« – The protagonists in Barrie Kosky’s production of Verdi’s opera spring like jack-in-the-boxes out of cupboards and the stage floor. The clown mask takes on a threatening aspect, becoming a curse that inescapably pursues the fool, even within the orchestration.
The musical signature of Rigoletto’s oppressive curse runs through the entire score, from the first notes of the prelude to Rigoletto’s final, helpless outcry: »Ah, la maledizione!« »Planned as a nightmare, the production grows into an adventure of musical theater shot through with clowning and truly beyond compare.« [Berliner Morgenpost].
Rigoletto, Verdi's sixteenth opera, was written in 1851. Barrie Kosky, in his 2009 production, weaves a fantastic nightmare around Rigoletto and his daughter Gilda. Rigoletto is a jester at the court of the Duke of Mantova, a rampant seducer of women. The jester hides his beloved daughter from the court, hoping to protect her from its denizens, who are hardly less decadent than the duke. Rigoletto himself is an evil clown who exposes everything and everyone to ridicule. Hated and feared, he spares no one his sarcasm and cynicism. The courtiers seek revenge. Believing that Gilda is Rigoletto’s lover, they kidnap her to get back at the jester for his evil jokes. Gilda has been raised in isolation by a nurse. On a rare outing from the prison that Rigoletto has created to protect her from the world, Gilda meets a young student and falls in love. The student, however, turns out to be the duke, who is planning to turn Gilda into his next conquest. The kidnapping victim ends up with the seducer. Rigoletto wants revenge and the catastrophe continues …