Rigoletto

Some sins can't be swept under the rug

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  • Thursday, February 15th - 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, February 17th - 8:00 pm
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Rigoletto

Life at court isn't all pomp and pageantry. There's deceit, lust ... and a curse that comes to pass. Tragedy befalls Rigoletto, the court jester, just when he thinks he's the one getting revenge. In Verdi's dramatic tale, love leads to murder.

Act I

Mantua, the 16th century

At his palace, the Duke of Mantua lightheartedly boasts of amorous conquests while escorting his latest prize, Countess Ceprano, to a private chamber. Meanwhile, his hunchback jester, Rigoletto, makes fun of her husband. Marullo announces that Rigoletto is suspected of keeping a mistress, and Ceprano plots with the courtiers to punish the hated buffoon. Attention is diverted when Monterone, an elderly nobleman, enters to denounce the Duke for seducing his daughter. Ridiculed by Rigoletto and placed under arrest, Monterone places a curse on both the Duke and his jester.

On his way home that night, Rigoletto broods over Monterone’s curse. Rejecting the services offered by Sparafucile, a professional assassin, he notes that the word can be as deadly as a dagger.

Greeted at home by his daughter, Gilda, whom he keeps hidden from the world, he reminisces about his late wife and then warns the governess, Giovanna, to admit no one. As Rigoletto leaves, the Duke slips into the garden, tossing a purse to Giovanna to keep her quiet. The nobleman declares his love to Gilda, who has noticed him in church – the only place she’s allowed to go. He tells her he is a poor student named Gualtier Maldè, but at the sound of footsteps, he rushes away.

Tenderly repeating his name, Gilda goes to her bedchamber. Meanwhile, the courtiers stop Rigoletto in the alley by his house. They tell him they are going to abduct Ceprano's wife, and convince him to help. The jester is duped into wearing a blindfold. Holding a ladder against his own garden wall, the courtiers break into his house and carry off Gilda. Hearing his daughter’s cry for help, Rigoletto tears off his blindfold and rushes into the house, discovering only her scarf. He remembers Monterone's curse.

Act II

In his palace, the Duke is distraught over the disappearance of Gilda. When his courtiers return, saying it is they who have taken her and that she is now in his bedchamber, he joyfully rushes off to the conquest. Rigoletto enters warily, looking for Gilda. The courtiers at first taunt him and prevent him from seeing the Duke. They are astonished to learn the girl is not his mistress – but his daughter. Gilda runs from the Duke’s bedchamber and tells her father of her courtship and abduction. As Monterone is led to the dungeon, Rigoletto vows to avenge them both.

Act III

At night, outside Sparafucile's run-down inn on the outskirts of town, Sparafucile tells his sister/accomplice, Maddalena, that they are to be paid for the dead body of her next customer who, unknown to her, is the Duke. Outside the tavern, Gilda and Rigoletto watch their victim arrive, and make his advances on Maddalena. Rigoletto sends his daughter off to disguise herself as a boy for her escape to Verona. He pays Sparafucile to murder the Duke.

As a storm rages, Maddalena sends her new admirer to the bedroom. She argues with her brother about murdering him, for she likes him too much. Sparafucile agrees to kill their next visitor and to substitute that body for the Duke’s. Gilda has returned, disguised as a boy, and overhears them. Resolving to sacrifice herself for her beloved Duke, despite his betrayal, she enters the inn and is stabbed. Rigoletto comes back to claim the body and gloats over the sack Sparafucile gives him, only to hear his supposed victim singing in the distance. Frantically cutting open the sack, he discovers his dying daughter. Monterone's curse is fulfilled.