Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Praise for Rigoletto

Madison Leonard (Gilda) and Lester Lynch (Rigoletto). Sunny Martini photo
"Compelling and provocative staging."

"The perfect opera for those that have never attended one before."
Eclectic Arts

"OMG! Last night was marvelous. I can hardly wait to see what Madison Leonard does next. Awesome soprano!" 
—Marilyn S. via Facebook

"... more real and emotionally impactful than any production of Rigoletto I’ve witnessed."

"This Seattle production of Rigoletto was mind-blowing! Bravo, (Stage Director) Lindy Hume for the incredible ability to translate Verdi’s masterpiece to our current political and social struggles. Sexual assault and abuse of power, unfortunately, are still “current.”... Absolutely the best production of an opera I’ve seen. (Saw Rigoletto last at La Scala )."
—Lisa D. via Facebook

Jonathan Silvia (Count Ceprano) with members of the Seattle Opera Chorus. Philip Newton photo
"No opera worth staging truly needs updating to make its point; then again, if you don’t distort its core concepts, you can do anything you like with an opera’s details. Rethinking them in modern dress can prove intriguing — especially when done as expertly as director Lindy Hume has for Seattle Opera's Rigoletto."
The Seattle Times 

"In the opening night team, soprano Madison Leonard was an impressive Gilda, with exemplary high notes, a fine way with a musical line, and the vocal presence to more than hold her own in ensembles."
The Vancouver Sun

"Rigoletto was just fantastic. I can’t say that enough. I want the whole city to see it. I usually hate modern productions, but THIS was intense and incredible!" 
—Page V. via Twitter

"The greatest singing actor of the production was opening night’s Rigoletto, dramatic baritone Lester Lynch ... his vocal beauty and emotional honesty made for a deeply touching, vulnerable portrayal. Lynch’s gift for bringing out the tender, wounded heart that motivates Rigoletto left me mesmerized."
San Francisco Classical Voice 

Lester Lynch (Rigoletto). Sunny Martini photo

"As the crookbacked title character, baritone Lester Lynch doesn’t get the most popular arias, but he was the star of the show nonetheless: a singing actor par excellence whose intensity carried to the back of the hall, and who made the most of his character’s potent mix of smothering paternal responsibility, guilt and thirst for vengeance."
The Vancouver Sun

"Lester Lynch showed multiple dimensions to the title character, singing with nuance and satisfying dramatic variety. Early on, he conveyed Rigoletto's vulnerability, while his stage movement persuasively embodied the jester's physical disability. His transition from dissembling jester to heart-on-sleeve pleading in the post-orgy second act was remarkably effective"

"As Gilda, Madison Leonard commanded both delicate filigree and remarkable vocal heft, and her portrayal suggested a good deal more agency and emotional complication than victimhood." 

"Voices were terrific and the staging production of Rigoletto was one of the best I’ve ever seen Seattle Opera do."
Kathryn S. via Facebook

"Continued applause after @SorayaMafi's Caro Nome aria surely a Guinness World Record? I thought @SeattleOpera was going to have to call an interval."
—Bri via Twitter
Soraya Mafi (Gilda) and Yongzhao Yu (The Duke of Mantua). Sunny Martini photo
"Soraya Mafi blows her famous aria out of the water. No words can describe how masterfully she sang."
—Lisa D. via Facebook

"In Seattle’s latest production, a contemporary womanizing Duke rules as philanderer-in-chief."
The Vancouver Sun

"The rotating set by Richard Roberts moves efficiently from the Duke’s extravagant residence (a bit too tasteful to be a stand-in for Trump Tower) to Rigoletto’s modest but cozy home, and in and outside Sparafucile’s seedy bar, where the action culminates. Jason Morphetti’s lighting signals the stark contrast between the rulers and those they rule through every abuse of power."

"While it’s probable there won’t be a long wait for another Vancouver Rigoletto, opera fans who want to see a remarkable modern-dress production will find the short trip south of the border entirely worthwhile."

"... Monterone [is] played with imposing, Commendatore-like grandeur by Clayton Brainerd."

"Avetisyan’s acting was exceptional, with body language that projected “arrogant bastard” far beyond the footlights. Vocally, he went from strength to strength; his “Parmi veder le lagrime” (“I can almost see her tears”) was as beautiful as his “La donna รจ mobile” was thrillingly repulsive. For a short while, you could almost believe that there was a tender heart beneath the Duke’s despicable public persona."

Liparit Avetisyan (Duke of Mantua). Sunny Martini photo
"As the Duke, Liparit Avetisyant delivered a bright, confident tenor with a vocal swagger that almost made you understand why Gilda would throw her life away for this guy. The way he milked the final high B natural in “La donna e mobile,” sitting on a barstool at Sparafucile’s dive bar while slowly donning his sunglasses was priceless. That kind of vocal and personal charisma can’t be faked. It was a sly performance: here’s a man that is so privileged, he truly can’t to help himself."
Opera Wire

"Everyone in the cast contributed to the production’s considerable success but it is Hume’s theatrical vision that was exceptional. Sets range from a crushingly grand representation of the Duke’s palace (complete with banks of video screens) to sketchy glimpses of a bus shelter, a dive bar, rooms in Rigoletto’s shabby home, often in disquieting motion as if to emphasize the fragility of the powerless."
The Vancouver Sun

John Keene’s chorus deserved equal applause, and dramaturg Jonathan Dean’s not always literal captions were compelling.
San Francisco Classical Voice 

"...Carlo Montanaro presided over a singer-friendly, elastic, and richly detail-oriented account of the score."

Giuseppe Altomare (Rigoletto). Sunny Martini photo
"In the second of the two casts, baritone Giuseppe Altomare brings a morally complex dimension to the title role, and as Gilda, Soraya Mafi is luminous and poignant. Both are superb singers, as are the other principals. And word on the alternating cast? They’re just as good."

"It’s all too easy, of course, to shrug off the significance of the drama and declare that Verdi’s 1851 score is the only thing that matters. But the composer himself was uniquely inspired by the source. The censored Victor Hugo play from 1832 on which Rigoletto is based, he wrote, struck him 'like a flash of lightning' as a topic 'that cannot fail.' Australian director Lindy Hume combines all of the aforementioned approaches in the production she first staged at Opera New Zealand in 2012 ... this Rigoletto transfers the licentious Mantuan court of the late Renaissance to today’s corridors of power and privilege." 
"The big chorus pieces were strong and lively from chorusmaster John Keene."
Eclectic Arts

"I could not breathe. I was so enthralled. What amazing voices. And that was Thursday dress rehearsal!"
—Sandra K. via Facebook

"Ante Jerkunica depicted a moody, alienated Sparafucile. Emily Fons sang his sister and 'decoy' Maddalena with a sultry, expressive intensity that made the sexily staged bar scene a highlight."
Yongzhao Yu (Duke of Mantua) and Emily Fons (Maddalena). Philip Newton photo

"Ante Jerkunica’s Sparafucile made a huge impact. Introduced in Act one at a bus stop with a menacing, sexy presence and an alluring molten bass voice, this was an assassin that meant business."
Opera Wire

"Verdi doesn’t give extensive opportunities to his minor roles, but as the assassin Sparafucile, bass Ante Jerkunica turned in a chilling performance. And the sublime third act quartet with Rigoletto, Gilda, the Duke and Sparafucile’s sister Giovanna — in this production a tawdry sex worker played by Emily Fons — was beautifully balanced."
The Vancouver Sun

"Supporting roles, including Countess Ceprano (mezzo-soprano Meghan Folkerts), Sparafucile (bass Ante Jerkunica), and Maddalena (mezzo-soprano Emily Fons) were expertly sung.
San Francisco Classical Voice 

"Stage director Lindi Hume transformed Verdi's tale of power and revenge in 2012 to update the themes to fit a modern audience. The die-hard opera fanatic may take exception to this or any opera that is updated but for those who are new like myself, the updating worked on many levels."

Rigoletto plays at Seattle Opera Aug. 10-28, 2019. 

Tickets & info: seattleopera.org/rigoletto