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Rigoletto at the Holland Park Opera

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
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So the acoustics might not be quite as good as those of Venice's La Fenice, where Rigoletto was first premiered, but you just can't beat the Holland Park Opera experience when it comes to peacocks joining in for the key scenes.


This is a new production, with direction by Lindsay Posner, who's a stalwart of The Royal Court and The National, and Stuart Stratford conducting, who's a regular of Opera Holland Park. Which makes for a good combination a conductor who's used to the additional audio challenges of Holland Park and a director known for his good ideas. Such as how to solve the issue of how to stage one of the opera's most dramatic scenes, the one where Gilda, who's been fatally stabbed and hidden in a sack, must come back to life and use her dying breaths to sing her gruelling three minute farewell aria, without the peacocks joining in.

If you don't know the story, from the opera or the play by Victor Hugo that it was originally based on, that was a minor spoiler, sorry. But the way it's done will still be a pleasant surprise.

The basic plot is as follows (in this case staged mafia style, complete with red paint dotted clothes and pole dancers): Rigoletto is a hunch-backed jester to a Duke, who's a womanising pleasure seeker working his way through the women in his court. Rigoletto teases the men involved, and in turn they tease him for having a lover. But he doesn't the woman he's been seen with is actually his daughter, Gilda. Unfortunately for everyone concerned the Duke has seen her in church and has taken a shine to her, and when he overhears her talking to her nurse he gains confidence in the fact that she doesn't know who he is (Rigoletto has been keeping her safe and secret), and sends the nurse away so he can profess his love to her.

The men of the court make plans to kidnap Gilda, and they tell Rigoletto that they're kidnapping another woman so that he'll assist them. They take her to the castle where she eventually falls into the Duke's hands. Which is when Rigoletto decides to hire a hit man to kill the Duke. But it doesn't quite go to plan.
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Why? Always of a high standard
When: August 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13 from 7.30pm
Where: Holland Park, W8
Cost: From 55.50
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