Jonathan Miller's Rigoletto defies the passage of timeby Neil Norman / January 18, 2017 / Leave a comment
English National Opera, London Coliseum, 2nd to 28th February
Can it really be 34 years since Jonathan Miller first unleashed his Mafia version of Verdi’s dark masterpiece? Tweaked and torqued through several revivals, this is a production that defies the passage of time. Set in New York’s Little Italy in the 1950s with a design heavily influenced by Edward Hopper, it is the perfect milieu for Verdi’s beautiful violence and stiletto wit. Richard Armstrong conducts a sterling cast that includes US baritone Nicholas Pallesen in the title role, lyric tenor Joshua Guerrero as the Duke and Sydney Mancasola as Gilda.
Royal Opera House, 7th February to 2nd March
Based on the life and death of an 18th-century French actress, Francesco Cilea’s opera, below, is a heady combination of soaring music and a complex narrative. David McVicar’s 2010 production was the first at the Royal Opera since 1906 and Angela Gheorghiu reprises the title here. Gheorghiu’s big soprano voice is perfect for the demands of the role, particularly the death scene, which involves a bunch of poisoned violets. A rare opportunity to see this extraordinary, if flawed, work.
Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre (then UK tour) 16th February to 25th March
Rossini wrote this mischievous version of the Cinderella story in three weeks. Although it had a wobbly beginning, it quickly became popular until coloratura contraltos fell out of fashion. Since its rediscovery in the 1960s, it has proved evergreen, here in a fizzing new production directed by Aletta Collins.