On Sunday afternoon the 18th, we closed out this year's Florentine Opera season with a performance of Giuseppi Verdi's drama, "Rigoletto." (The Duke of Mantua is a libertine and predator on women. His jester, the hunchbacked Rigoletto, is his aider and abettor in his misbehavior. The jester's world turns upside down, however, when his own daughter becomes the target of the Count's lust.)We have seen a number of productions of this opera, including a prior one at the Florentine, and this was not the best of the lot, although it was very well sung. Adequate costumes and very nice sets were undercut by the very static stage direction, which left the chorus very lifeless for long stretches, and permitted the singers playing the Duke of Mantua (tenor Bonaventura Bottone) and the jester Rigoletto (baritone Mark Delavan) to revert to the old style of "stand down-center and sing" style of opera performance. Soprano Ying Huang sang beatifully as Gilda, the jester's daughter, and managed to bring the other performers more to life when she was interacting with them. Chester Patton, as the assassin Sparfucile, and Alina Gurina, and his sister Maddalena, were some of the better players I have seen in these roles. Patton's solemn and deliberate movements gave the character an oft-lacking aura of menace, and Gurina was a more animated and alive Maddelena than I am accustomed to seeing.
We already have our season's tickets for the coming year, which will consist of "La Traviata," again by Verdi, "Tristan and Isolde," by Richard Wagner, and "Don Pasquale," by Gaetano Donizetti. Http://www.florentineopera.org/