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“Wonderfully sung and politically astute”

Welsh National Opera first unveiled James Macdonald’s Rigoletto in 2002. At the time, set in a Kennedy-era White House, its portrayal of the president as a debauched philanderer and rapist laid bare uncomfortable truths about modern-day power abuse.

In today’s darkening political environment, it’s a pointed reminder of how bad things can get when such abuses go unchecked. While contemporary comparisons are ultimately left to the audience, the cool, Mad Men-esque Oval Office created by designer Robert Innes Hopkins feels disturbingly tasteful – even restrained.

Subject to censorship in its day, Verdi’s opera has always had political overtones. Yet the heart of his tale is private anguish – his eponymous hero a damaged, psychologically complex figure who destroys himself and the daughter he loves. The WNO orchestra brings depth to the colourful score, sensitively conducted – albeit with occasionally ponderous tempi – by Alexander Joel.

But it’s the singers who make this revival, the cast and chorus universally excellent. Mark S Doss does Rigoletto splendid justice, segueing between mocking cruelty, fear, rage and tenderness with vocal aplomb, while David Junghoon Kim’s Duke/President is a blithely ignorant nemesis; clear and seductive of voice, he cares for nothing beyond his own pleasure.

Torn between them, Marina Monzó excels as Gilda. With a searing combination of innocence and burgeoning sexuality her ‘Caro Nome’ is a ravishing highlight of the evening, and sets the scene for an unbearable denouement to come. Wonderfully supported by James Platt’s cavernous Sparafucile and Emma Carrington’s conflicted, drug-addled Maddelena, she may be a deluded self-sacrifice but is never passive nor less than courageous.

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Production Details
Production nameRigoletto
VenueWales Millennium Centre
StartsOctober 4, 2019
EndsOctober 12, 2019, then touring until November 30, 2019
Running time2hrs 40mins
ComposerGiuseppe Verdi
DirectorCaroline Chaney, James Macdonald
ConductorAlexander Joel
ChoreographerDenni Sayers
Set designerRobert Innes Hopkins
Costume designerRobert Innes Hopkins
Lighting designerPaul Woodfield, Simon Mills
CastAlastair Moore, David Junghoon Kim, Eddie Wade, Emma Carrington, Francesco Saraconi, George Newton-Fitzgerald, James Platt, Marina Monzó, Mark S Doss, Martin Lloyd, Paula Greenwood, Sian Meinir, Simn Crosby Buttle
TechnicalAndy John, Jolanda Pupillo, Siân Price
Production managerRichard Norton
Stage managerAnnabel Board, Deborah Cohen, Jenni Price, Sava Bell
ProducerWelsh National
VerdictA wonderfully sung, politically astute Rigoletto from Welsh National Opera
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Steph Power

Steph Power

Steph Power

Steph Power

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