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24 September 2014
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September, 2003
Regrets for Rigoletto
Rigoletto
The Duke and Gilda in Rigoletto
Simon Tavener was prepared to be forgiving of the Ukranian National Opera Of Odessa's production of Rigoletto, but found the acting laughable and the orchestra too loud...
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Ellen Kent & Opera International present
Verdi Rigoletto at The New Theatre from
September 18-20, 2003.

It always concerns me when I see any theatrical production being promoted by reference to the glamour of the sets and costumes.

For me, theatre is about drama - not the design.

However, I was prepared to be charitable towards the Ukranian National Opera and their production of Rigoletto.

Verdi constructed a masterfully tight blend of melodrama and stirring music that is always going to stir deep emotions in an audience.

It is with much regret that I have to report that this production served Verdi very badly indeed.

The sets and costumes could have been taken from a provincial pantomime. The acting (such as there was) was laughable.

I may have been spoiled by seeing opera productions where every detail has been thought out and integrated into a coherent view of the work, but I could see very little evidence of any thought in what transpired on the stage.

The orchestra, though often too loud to allow the singers to be heard with clarity, gave a creditable account of the score.

They survived the attempts of the singers to set their own tempi.

Credit must also be given to the chorus who sang with great precision and tonal beauty. Three principals stood out - Dmytro Pavlyuk (Sparafucile) and Madezhda Stoianova (Maddalena) have excellent voices and were the most convincing people on stage.

Akhmed Agadi was a powerful Rigoletto. While he often resorted to fortissimo instead of vocal finesse, he managed to convince the audience of his passion and devotion.

It was hard to tell that the opera was being sung in Italian. Too often the singers gave an indistinct and rough approximation of the libretto.

I have to admit that I feel that opera, in general, and Verdi, in particular, have been very ill-served by this tour.

It harks back to standards that ceased to be acceptable in the late 1950's. I am only glad that we have WNO and Glyndebourne coming in the next few months to restore my faith in Opera.

By Simon Tavener

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