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Teatro Regio, Friday 18 January 2008 - Sunday 3 February 2008
The scene is set in the city of Mantua and its environs, in the sixteenth century.
During a party in the Ducal Palace of Mantua, the Duke tells the courtier Borsa that he is infatuated with a girl he met in church. 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. The Count of Monterone enters, demanding justice for the honour of his daughter, who was seduced by the Duke. Rigoletto insults him, and the Count casts a curse on the Duke and Rigoletto, who is particularly troubled. On his way home, the jester meets Sparafucile, an assassin who offers him his services. In his house, Rigoletto meets the mysterious girl: it is Gilda, his daughter. The Duke, who has slipped in unseen, thus discovers the true identity of the woman. When Rigoletto has gone, he presents himself to Gilda as a poor student. The two declare their love for each other. Later, alone, Gilda is abducted by the courtiers.
The courtiers tell the Duke that they have abducted Rigoletto’s lover and that she is enclosed in the Ducal Palace. He realises that it is Gilda, and goes to her. The jester confronts the courtiers and tells them that they have kidnapped his daughter. Gilda enters. Alone with her father, she tells him everything. While Monterone is being taken to the gallows, Rigoletto vows vengeance on the Duke who has seduced his daughter.
Maddalena, Sparafucile’s sister, has drawn the Duke to an inn on the banks of the Mincio. Rigoletto shows Gilda the libertine who is courting Maddalena, but the girl continues to love him. According to their agreement, Sparafucile will kill the Duke and deliver him in a sack to the jester, but his sister wants to save the handsome young man. Therefore, they decide to kill the first person to appear at the inn and to deceive the hunchback. Gilda, having heard everything, knocks, ready to die in order to save the man she loves. Sparafucile gives Rigoletto the sack with the corpse, but suddenly the voice of the libertine is heard. With horror, the hunchback discovers that Gilda is in the sack; dying, she asks for his forgiveness. Rigoletto, desperate, throws himself on his daughter’s corpse, crying: “ah, la maledizione” [“oh, the curse”].