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Opera and Ballet
Giuseppe Verdi sets his comic opera Falstaff in the period of the reign of Henry IV of England, in the city of Windsor. At the Garter Inn, the innkeeper brings the bill to Sir John Falstaff, who discovers he cannot pay it and thus accuses his followers Bardolph and Pistol of drinking too much. The only way to manage to scrape together some money is to woo two wealthy women.
Falstaff commits all sorts of nasty actions…but in an amusing way, because he is inevitably discovered and made fun of, in a world that is all a joke.
Giselle lives in an imaginary, fairy-tale land immersed in vineyards, in love with the charming Albrecht – a youth who arrived a few days before in the village – and in turn loved by the rustic forester Hilarion. She goes mad and dies after discovering that her beloved is engaged to another woman.
On her tomb, a host of spirits of girls abandoned on the eve of their wedding dance and fight; though dead, they cannot rest in peace for not having realised their dreams of love. Gathered together to welcome Giselle into their spirits’ circle, they pursuit both the forester Hilarion, crying on the tomb of his beloved, and Albrecht, who begs Giselle for forgiveness and is protected by her.
During a party in the Ducal Palace of Mantua, the Duke says that he is infatuated with a girl he met in church, while Cavaliere Marullo explains that the court jester, the hunchback Rigoletto, has a secret lover whom he goes to see each night. Together with the Count of Ceprano, whom Rigoletto has derided, they decide to kidnap the woman. To the scene is added the Count of Monterone, who, after demanding justice for the honour of his daughter, at one time seduced by the Duke, is insulted and casts a curse on the Duke and Rigoletto.
In a series of tricks and reversals of roles, the curse cast by the unhappy father against the mocking jester leads to its tragic conclusion: the kidnapped girl who sacrifices herself for love is Gilda, Rigoletto’s own daughter.