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In Rigoletto, Verdi charts the fate of his larger-than-life characters – the tormented jester trying to avenge himself on his heartless playboy employer the Duke of Mantua, who has carelessly seduced Rigoletto's innocent daughter Gilda – in music of immense theatrical punch and instant memorability.
Based on Victor Hugo's controversial play, Le Roi s'amuse, Verdi's 1851 tragedy caused one of his many rows with the censors before its Venetian premiere.
Following a few minor compromises, the work triumphed locally, then internationally.
The score's most celebrated highlights – the Duke's 'Questa o quella' and 'La donna e mobile', Gilda's 'Caro nome', and the famous quartet (which Hugo believed actually improved on his play at that point in the action) – are among the best known set- pieces in all opera.
First seen in 2001, David McVicar's production teems with life and colour and, with Tanya McCallin's period costumes and Michael Vale's starkly effective sets, it provides an ideal frame for Verdi's exploration of love, emotional betrayal and the darkest revenge..