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Teatro Regio, Friday 18 January 2008 - Sunday 3 February 2008
«As for the title, since it isn’t possible to keep Le Roi s’amuse, which would be nice...the title must necessarily be La Maledizione di Vallier or shorter, La Maledizione. The whole subject lies in that malediction which also becomes moral. An unhappy father who mourns the loss of his daughter’s honour, mocked by a court jester whom the father curses, and this curse strikes the jester in a frightening way: it seems to me to be moral and great at its peak». So wrote Verdi on 3 June 1850 to Francesco Maria Piave, his librettist, already completely focused on what would become the dramaturgical heart of his Rigoletto.
Le Roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo was staged in Paris in November 1832, but was suspended for reasons of censorship after the opening night: in the original play, Triboulet was the jester of Francis I. In the opera, for the same reasons of censorship, all references to the French king were to disappear; he became the generic, un-named, Duke of Mantua, and all the names were Italianised. There was also a long diatribe about the sack containing the dying Gilda, considered too realistic and scandalous: «I don’t understand why the sack has been eliminated!. What did the police care about the sack? Do they fear its effect? Permit me to say: why do they want to know more about this than I do? Without that sack, it’s doubtful that Triboletto talks for half an hour to a corpse before a flash of lightning reveals the fact that it’s his daughter», the composer stated.
When all the obstacles were overcome, Rigoletto was staged at theTeatro La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851.A symbol of Verdi’s father figures, Rigoletto is among the most-loved characters in the history of opera. It immediately met with great success and had twenty-one performances. Among the most popular pages is the quartet “Bella figlia dell’amore” in the last act. Even Victor Hugo, who heard a performance in Paris, declared all his admiration for the quartet, underlining that composers could make four characters “speak” together, something that playwrights were denied.
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave
Year of the first performance: 1851 Teatro La Fenice, Venezia