Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.


“Starkly beautiful”

The misogyny in Verdi’s Rigoletto is given an added edge in Matthew Richardson’s timely revival of his 2011 production for Scottish Opera.

Mannequins, not dancers, waltz with the male courtiers in the Duke of Mantua’s orgiastic ball, while their naked and dismembered parts are strewn around his room where the courtiers bring him Gilda, the kidnapped daughter of Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester and procurer of female flesh.

Stephen Gadd provides a strong vocal account of the jester, stepping into the title role for the indisposed Aris Argiris, while Lina Johnson has both the notes and a seemingly effortless presence for Gilda. The duet between father and daughter before her abduction emphases her innocence while Gadd creates a strong sympathy for the embattled Rigoletto. But it is Gilda’s love duet with Adam Smith’s ruthless Duke that really allows Johnson to fill out the nuances and passion of the 16 year-old Gilda’s first love.

When Gilda eventually appears, shivering, from the Duke’s room, her shrinking away from the courtiers as they file past gives added credence to her view of the Duke as her saviour, rather than her rapist. Despite witnessing his seduction of the prostitute Maddalena (Sioned Gwen Davies), it adds credibility to Gilda’s final act of sacrifice.

It is a clever and thoroughly transparent staging which serves the plot while providing a chilling condemnation of the attitudes it portrays. The storytelling is enhanced by Jon Morrell’s effortlessly sliding abstract set and modern costumes.

Related to this Review


Production Details
Production nameRigoletto
VenueTheatre Royal
StartsOctober 18, 2018
EndsOctober 27, 2018, then touring until November 24
Running time2hrs 30mins
ComposerGiuseppe Verdi
DirectorMatthew Richardson
ConductorRumon Gamba
ChoreographerKally Lloyd-Jones
Set designerJon Morrell
Lighting designerRobert B Dickson, Tony Rabbit
CastAdam Smith, Bethan Langford, David Shipley, Lina Johnson, Sioned Gwen Davies, Stephen Gadd
VerdictScottish Opera's starkly beautiful contemporary revival has a strong political edge.
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Thom Dibdin

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In