Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rigoletto aus Bayern

In a little more than an hour time (at 18:00 cet), the Bavarian State Opera will live stream their new production of Rigoletto, produced by Árpád Schilling (excellent theater director who makes his operatic debut with this production), always reliable Marco Armiliato and a superb cast including Franco Vassallo, Dmitry Ivashchenko, Joseph Calleja, Patricia Petibon and Nadia Krasteva.

Here is your link and the trailer plus a short film about the production is attached below.

  • Árpád Schilling is an exceptionally good director whose name is very well known among aficionados of the contemporary theater. We were lucky to see his recent work at the Théâtre de Chaillot in Paris. He has that warlikowskian kind of talent (although th estyles are very different), with that special ability to combine various forms of scenic expressions in order to communicate with public, to invite the spectators to participate and shape up the emotional dimension of the story -- of the show ("happening") 
  • And so when I saw that he was given to stage Rigoletto as his first opera production, I thought that was a very nasty gift to him from the BSO artistic management.  Rigoletto is one of those notoriously bad Verdi operas to bring to life. The storyline is messy, often incongruent and ultimately cheesy. This is why you need a good and well experienced director to pull it from the idiocy in which it always falls.  Of many productions of this opera that I was able to see only the one by Barrie Kosky at the Komische Opera in Berlin was excellent. Barrie has that talent to insert an element or two that connect the dots and make the libretto intelligible, plus he gave the story a frame that was working impeccably with the score. Calixto Bieito could be good for this opera. Schilling?! I am not so sure, but I hope he will manage to shake off the cheese and give life to this really bad opera (stagewise!). 
  • Having said that, Rigoletto is a festival of tunes and almost all the newbies love the music of this opera. When sung well, it is a treat and this cast is more than promising!
  • I was looking if there is any good production of this opera available on DVD and unfortunately there is none. The one that was broadcast earlier this year from the Royal Opera House was truly awful. David McVicar did what he does very well, i.e. he told the story as written in the libretto, and fell in all its traps. If you're interested to see it anyway (Grigolo and Syurina were particularly good!), it is available on YouTube (and with difft cast on DVD). I attach them here too:

  •  Calleja should be smashing as usual -- this is his role. Patricia Petibon makes her debut as Gilda and I am sure she will be good. Most interesting will be Franco Vassallo who is one of the best living singers as far as the Verdi repertoire is concerned. Do pay attention to Sparafucile however: Dimitry Ivashchenko is one of the best singers I've ever listened to in a live performance. His voice is compelling both in smaller auditoriums and in larger venues.  OK, it's about to start... enough time to fill your wine glasses ;)
  •  Hope the streaming will be glitchless. Allez, c'est parti! Good luck to all the artists!
  • The timbre of Joseph Calleja's voice is particularly beautiful and he sings wonderfully. Bravissimo!
  •  Here comes Dima (Monterone). The cast is really unbeatable. Franco Vassallo is killing it! 
  • Show is good so far.  The first scene is the easy part of the libretto. It's with Gilda where the things become more tricky but it's the third act where it all falls apart. Anyways... Dima and Franco are superb!
  • I officially am a Franco Vassallo fan! I like the subtle phrasing by Patricia Petibon and her delicate singing of the role so far.   
  • No sex! Only a quick baccio on Gilda's cheek and  Gualtier Maldé runs away. Interesting...  more plausible, and more fitting to Calleja ;)
  • Superb direction during Caro nome, and Bravissima Patricia!
  • Nice decomposition of what's private vs. public and the fact that the boundaries get blurred with abduction of Gilda. Good work Arpad!   
  • Rigoletto is like a tabloid journalist who --under the mask of "his job" feels-- entitled to destroy the intimate sphere of a public figure only to humiliat her (the crowd/readership always love this when it happens), but strips the mask when his practice hits his own daughter...  

  • When talking about the extremely rare good productions of this opera I forgot to mention the much praised production of this opera by Jim Lucassen (not on DVD), an excerpt of which you can find here.
  • Note also that the Deutsche Oper in Berlin will premiere their new Rigoletto in April 2013, with a brilliant Jan Bosse directing the show and Pablo Heras-Casado conducting. Our fave Lucy Crowe will sing alongside Teodor Ilincai and Andrzej Dobber.

  • Part Two (Act 2 & 3) is about to start. Hoping for the best. I very much enjoy the singing so far. I just hope the Gilda's return/death will be staged in a plausible manner, to prevent the opera falling to its usual stupidity. 
  • Beautiful legato. Bravissimo Jo Calleja!!! 
  • Magnifico Franco! But what the heck is going on on the stage? Nothing
  • I like the robe on Gilda. The same one in which the Duke has left the stage before Rigoletto arrived ;) 
  • Singing remains at high level, but scenically the show is rapidly sinking, I'm afraid...
  • Armiliato is rushing...
  •  I understand the intention to make each character to appear lonely in this world in which the private is impossible to exist for public personalities, but the show becomes disjoint and almost dissociated from the score. 
  • I also understand a huge danger that the director could fill the banality of the libretto with pathos (c.f. McVicar production), but that's where the good director should be able to navigate to avoid the traps and makes this opera a compelling theatrical experience (c.f. Barrie Kosky production). Arpad Schilling simply interrupted the theatrical action. While I appreciate that he prevented the usual idiocy on the stage, I am more than disappointed that he did not offer anything instead. 
  • I want to believe that Rigoletto was a poisonous chalice for Arpad and he will exhibit the true colors of his talent in some better opera.  
  • In any case, despite the fiery Armiliato, the singers made the evening enjoyable. Bravissima Patricia Petibon and her beautiful rendition of Gilda, terrific Joseph Calleja & Franco Vassallo! Congrats to the always great Dimitry Ivashchenko too. 

  • And so, in the end, I'll say something that I usually loath (calls to recreate the past): Bring back the intriguing Doris Dörrie production -- a fancy mixture of the Star Wars and The Planet of the Ape! 


  1. The Bayern Rigoletto was nothing for me. Everything was too static and had no theatrical power, except for superb Calleja and a bit of Petibon. In such a case people tend to think that the director was the one to be blamed, but I suspect that the resource provided by the Staatsoper had been quite inadequate. The orchestra was good only when Calleja sang. Armiliato was booed on the day I saw this production, he was unlucky enough...

    The tessitura of the role of Gilda is almost incompatible for Petibon but she sang some phrases with emotion, Ivashchenko was too weak for Monterone/Sparafucile. The Staatsoper should be responsible for this cast.

    I hope Bosse will do successfully. His Basel production of "La Calisto" was amazing (although not a baroque opera anymore, in some sense).

    1. Very disappointing production indeed. As usual the first act was OK(ish), but after that everything fell apart. This opera is notoriously difficult to stage but something could be done. A series of flops at the BSO continues...

      Yes yes, Bosse should do a better job. He will not be afraid of doing something clever to make the show more compelling. I'm almost thinking of making a trip to Berlin to see the show in April (well, combining with some other things to see at UdL and Komische ;) )


  2. Not a wonderful production - Acts One and Two were fine, but I wasn't impressed by the fact that the ghost(?) of Gilda got up and walked off the stage.....But the actual performance was wonderful!! Vassallo was impressive and convincing as Rigoletto.

  3. I skipped it. Rigoletto does nothing for me and the production sounded uninteresting, as reports confirm.

    But Opera Cake, what should I see in Paris (or Brussels, or somewhere else in range) during the second half of January? My frequent trips there are coming to an end soon. :-(

  4. For your information, this was not Schilling's operatic debut: he made a - slightly adapted - Cenerentola for Bavarian Opera's Opera Studio. I saw it and... it was great! Moving and delicate, great sets, wonderful acting...

  5. I never really saw how Rigoletto is a cheesy or hard-to-vitalize plot - yes, it depends on some very contrived twists, but so does "Othello," and that opera does not have as fully developed characters.