I attended the opera Rigoletto at the New York State Theater. Rigoletto was composed by Giuseppe Verdi and it was first performed in 1851, during the Romantic period. Act I of Rigoletto starts out in duple meter and sounds very dramatic, as if something dark and mysterious is going to happen. I think the dynamics play a role in this mood because of the constant changing from loud to soft. This act starts with an overture since the beginning is instrumental. All of a sudden, still in duple meter, the music turns lively as if the first part had nothing to do with it and the texture becomes homophonic as the opera singers come in.
The music is lively because the Duke is holding a party. At the party, the Duke leaves with the Countess of Ceprano and Rigoletto, the court jester, starts making fun of the Count of Ceprano. The Count gets angry and hears that Rigoletto has a young lover so the Count plans to kidnap her. Towards the end of the party, the Count of Montero ne enters and accuses the Duke of seducing his daughter. The Duke has him arrested and Rigoletto makes fun of him also. The Count then sings an aria where he is cursing both Rigoletto and the Duke.
After the party, Rigoletto goes home to Gilda, who is really his daughter, not his lover. He talks to her for a while and then leaves. The Duke then enters and, posing as a student, seduces Gilda until he hears some noises outside and leaves. Upon his departure, Gilda sings an aria in coloratura about her new lover. The noise happens to come from the men who are planning to kidnap Rigoletto's lover.
Rigoletto returns unexpectedly so they blindfold him and lead him to believe that they are kidnapping the Countess of Ceprano for the Duke. The act ends with the trumpets in full blast as Rigoletto hears his daughter calling for help and he realizes what has happened. In Act II, the music starts out in duple meter, changes to triple meter, and goes back to duple meter In this act, Gilda is imprisoned in the Duke's palace and the Duke reveals his identity. Rigoletto shows up, demanding his daughter back, but the courtiers mock him. Finally, Gilda runs out of the Duke's room, falls into her father's arms, and confesses that the Duke has seduced her.
Rigoletto vows revenge and decides to have the Duke killed by Sparafucile, an assassin. The entire act is homophonic except for the part where Rigoletto and Gilda are singing together. The act ends with the orchestra playing. Act starts out with a sad, slow overture, probably to foreshadow the tragic ending. Gilda tells her father that she is still in love with the Duke so he tells her to look through the window of the inn.
There, the Duke is singing, what is probably the most well known part of the opera. He is singing, in triple meter and with a homophonic texture, about how fickle women are, all the while being seduced by Maddalena, Sparafucile's sister. This is part of the whole plot to kill the Duke. Later, the meter changes to duple and the texture is polyphonic when Sparafucile and Maddalena are arguing. There are also parts of the argument that are sung monophonically by each of them. Apparently, Maddalena has fallen in love with the Duke.
She tries to convince her brother to kill Rigoletto instead, but he refuses claiming that he cannot kill a client. I guess that would be unethical. They both agree on killing the next person that walks into the inn, putting the body in a sack, and tricking Rigoletto. However, Gilda hears their plan and decides to sacrifice herself for the Duke.
When she walks in, she is stabbed. Rigoletto arrives as Sparafucile is dragging the body out, but in the distance, the Duke's voice is heard, singing the same song. The music gets intense as Rigoletto frantically tears the sack open, and then tones down as he sees Gilda and she begins apologizing to her father and asks for his forgiveness. The opera ends dramatically when Gilda dies in her father's arms. In general, the opera wasn t too bad. I expected a lot worse and a lot longer.
I thought the story was pretty interesting, kind of like a soap opera. I really liked the music, because even though not a word was understandable, it was obvious when something bad was going to happen. Since this was my first time seeing a live opera, I would like to see another one. Experiencing it live is completely different than just listening to it on CD.