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Playing: Prelude and Fugue in G minor by Johannes Brahms
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Verdi's Rigoletto

Duration:
1 hour, 30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 12 December 2010

Stephen Johnson with players and performers explore some of the ideas and music for one of the most popular and effective Italian operas of the 19th century, Verdi's Rigoletto.

Verdi composed this powerful drama for Venice between 1850 and 1851, and while critics were initially a little ambivalent, audiences immeadiately took the opera to their hearts. Since that time it has never been out of the repertory. It provides singers with some of the most inspiring and challenging roles in Romantic opera, in a piece that contains some of Verdi's most affecting; best-loved and best-known music.

Stephen Johnson focuses on the final act of the opera and joins a cast of singers that includes Anthony Michaels-Moore as Rigoletto; Laura Claycomb as Gilda; Madeleine Shaw as Maddalena; David Soar as Sparafucile and Gwyn Hughes Jones as the Duke; with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers conducted by Andrew Litton; and opera Director Graham Vick, for an examination of some of Verdi's musical and theatrical achievements in this work that proved the turning point in the career of one of the most significant composers of the operatic genre.

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