Utah Opera: Verdi’s Rigoletto

Verdi’s Rigoletto, one of the most popular and well-known operas had it’s opening night last night in Salt Lake City’s Capitol Theatre. We were excited to get to see this masterpiece unfold on the stage as it began it’s run (March 11-19th, 2023), however limited my opera-going experience may be. As a novice, there definitely was a learning curve, but one I am enthusiastic about getting through.

To begin the experience of going to the opera, it is very helpful to read about the show first to get some insight. In fact, Utah Opera offers some learning opportunities beforehand like their Opera Talks, which takes place one hour before the show at the theatre or you can view online, as well as a learning course that helps teach you about the history, music, storyline, and more. Participating in these events will greatly help in your understanding of the production. I highly recommend doing them!

So, if you were unfamiliar with the opera, such as I was, here is a quick synopsis of what to expect.

Revenge only leads to disaster and no one is safe in Verdi’s tragic yet tuneful operatic classic, the epitome of high drama.

The Duke is a notorious womanizer and his court jester, Rigoletto, is all too ready to laugh at the men whose wives and daughters have been seduced—that is, until he learns his own daughter is the Duke’s latest conquest. In the end, the cruel and devastating joke is on the jester.

Scott Hendricks brings his “rich baritone and energetic stage presence” (Opera News) to his role as Rigoletto, who will do anything for his beloved daughter. Little does Rigoletto know that his daughter, portrayed by the dynamic and versatile Jasmine Habersham, will do anything for the man she loves.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Content Advisory: Rigoletto contains some adult themes.

Once we arrived and experienced Verdi’s Rigoletto, what did we think? Opening night of Rigoletto was amazing

The set created the perfect tone for the story, without distracting from the music and actors. The colors clearly emphasized the event taking place and gave the right sense of foreboding for what was about to happen.

Scott Hendricks who played Rigoletto is masterful in his role, portraying Rigoletto’s conflicted emotions through both acting and voice. Jasmine Habersham who played Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda has a beautiful, pure voice that made the whole evening worthwhile. Matthew White who played the Duke did a great job being the player whose behavior causes the tragedy and has power to be “unaffected” by it. Listen for his opening song in the third Act, “La donna è mobile,”–it is the most famous song of this opera and we all left humming the tune. 

I also enjoyed the costumes. They not only communicate the time period but they also perfectly compliment the characters. Putting Gilda in an elegant white dress in the third Act is a beautifully simple way to compliment the story and her character and contrast with the tone of the set. 

The story of this opera is a tragedy–the bad guy lives and will undoubtedly continue his debauchery, the conflicted character is devastatingly heartbroken, and the angel dies to become an actual angel.  Additionally, the introduction to the opera in the playbill titled “Verdi’s Rigoletto: The King Amuses Himself” helped me understand the context in which the opera was written and originally performed but also how the characters reflect behavior of those in power today. 

If you haven’t been to the Opera before, I recommend reading a summary of the story before going or in the playbill before it begins so you can relax and enjoy the music and incredible voices. Many people dressed up to attend, but business casual is definitely appropriate. Also, be prepared to read the subtitles unless you are fluent in Italian!

It was a wonderful and unique experience, thoroughly enjoyable and one I am looking forward to repeating again with other productions by the extremely talented Utah Opera.

To learn more about the Utah Opera and Verdi’s Rigoletto, visit them online. There you can find the learning resources available for the opera as well as purchase tickets. Be sure to get your tickets for Verdi’s Rigoletto while it is in Salt Lake City this week.

*we were invited to facilitate a feature, all opinions are my own*

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