by Giuseppe Verdi

At the San Diego Civic Theatre

The lecherous Duke of Mantua seduces wives and daughters while his hunchbacked Jester, Rigoletto, adds insult to injury by ridiculing their husbands and fathers. Finally, the joke goes too far and a furious father proclaims a curse on Rigoletto. The curse comes to life as the Duke seduces Rigoletto’s young, innocent daughter Gilda and Rigoletto plots his revenge with an attempt to assassinate him, with unbelievably disastrous results.

Fast-paced and powerful, this is Verdi at his best with an unforgettable focus on the cruel realities of a society controlled by a corrupt ruling class. You’ll recognize melody after melody from the tenor’s arrogant La donna è mobile to the soprano’s wistful Caro nome to the most memorable quartet in all of opera. Rigoletto is an traditional Italian classic that is the cornerstone of the opera repertoire.

Sung in Italian with projected English translations.

The approximate run time is two hours and thirty minutes, including one intermission.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Rigoletto: Interview with Stephen Powell

Baritone Stephen Powell is one of our favorite singers here at San Diego Opera, having sung ten productions with us over the years. He's bringing us his very special take on one of the strangest yet most powerful characters in all opera, and a favorite of the composer himself: Rigoletto. It's a role that demands absolutely everything: technique, musicality, a strong voice and physicality. In this conversation with Nic Reveles the singer shares his ideas about this role as well as some of the other Verdi roles that he has sung (and would like to sing!) Enjoy! 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Rigoletto: Interview with David Bennett

One of Verdi's greatest creations, Rigoletto graces our stage again after a ten-year absence. The opera was a real experiment for the composer in that it breaks with so many operatic traditions, like giving the main character an aria or two...what Rigoletto gets are monologues, making him a kind of musical Shakespearean character. Enjoy what Mr. Bennett has to say about the singers and the production of this dynamic piece of musical theatre!


The Duke of Mantua, surveying his court, muses about a lovely, innocent girl he's recently seen at church. He is soon distracted by the many women with whom he might amuse himself in the meantime. He selects the Countess Ceprano, who is flattered but nervous; her husband is present. His court jester, Rigoletto, takes the lead in solving the impasse, humiliating the Count Ceprano in the process. Marullo enters with news for his fellow courtiers that Rigoletto has a mistress hidden in the town. The Duke, increasingly frustrated, discusses his dilemma with Rigoletto, who suggests the following alternatives for Ceprano: prison, exile, or beheading. Ceprano and the courtiers are outraged and swear vengeance on Rigoletto for his continual mockery of them. Monterone, an old nobleman, interrupts the party to denounce the Duke and his dissolute court. With the Duke’s consent, Rigoletto ridicules the old man and his dishonored daughter. Monterone curses both Rigoletto and the Duke for laughing at a father’s grief. Rigoletto suddenly fears for the safety of his own daughter, whom he has kept carefully hidden from the court.

Returning home later that evening, Rigoletto is accosted by Sparafucile, who offers his services as a hired killer. Rigoletto spurns his offer and then reflects on their encounter. He sees Sparafucile as his alter ego: one kills with a sword, the other with words. Monterone’s curse continues to haunt him.

Rigoletto greets his daughter, Gilda, at home, declaring that she means the world to him. She reciprocates his feelings but questions why he has kept her concealed. He fears the courtiers and warns the housemaid to guard Gilda carefully. Hearing a noise in the street, he goes out to investigate. The Duke, disguised as a student, takes the opportunity to sneak in and is astonished to discover the girl he has seen in church is Rigoletto’s daughter. Rigoletto leaves, allowing The Duke to surprise Gilda and declare his love. She eventually reciprocates but then, fearing Rigoletto’s return, urges him to leave. Left alone, Gilda rhapsodizes on the false name of the “student,” Gualtier Maldè. Meanwhile, outside the walls, the courtiers gather to kidnap the woman they believe to be Rigoletto’s mistress, to present her to the Duke in revenge against the jester. Rigoletto returns to find the courtiers near his house, but they fool him into thinking they have come to kidnap Countess Ceprano who lives next door. After the ruse is complete, Rigoletto discovers that his daughter has been abducted and he has only himself - and Monterone's curse - to blame.

The Duke, unaware of what has occurred, laments the fact that when he returned to Gilda’s house he found it deserted. The courtiers describe how they kidnapped Rigoletto’s mistress. The Duke realizes it is Gilda and rushes off to be with her. When Rigoletto enters, a remark from the page alerts him to Gilda’s whereabouts. He rages at his tormentors but is soon reduced to begging them for pity. When Gilda bursts onto the scene, Rigoletto orders the courtiers to leave him alone with his daughter. She explains how she met the Duke, whom she had taken to be a student, at church. She insists theirs was a pure love but now she is devastated by the disappointment she has brought to her father. Rigoletto comforts her. Monterone, on the way to his beheading, laments that no one has yet struck down his daughter’s seducer. Rigoletto promises to do so. Gilda begs mercy for the Duke, still believing him worthy of redemption.

Rigoletto has brought Gilda to Sparafucile’s inn to show her the real nature of the man she loves. The Duke, once again incognito, flirts with Sparafucile’s sister and accomplice, Maddalena. Gilda laments his faithlessness, but is still determined to love him. Rigoletto sends her home and hires Sparafucile to kill the Duke. Maddalena, moved by the Duke's passionate seduction, urges her brother to spare him. He reluctantly agrees, provided another victim can be found as a substitute so that he can keep his pact with Rigoletto. Gilda, in defiance of her father’s orders, returns and presents herself as a sacrifice after overhearing the siblings' conversation. Rigoletto returns to gloat over his victim and is given a body in a sack. Hearing the Duke’s voice in the distance, he quickly opens the sack to discover his daughter Gilda, in the last moments of life. Rigoletto is desperate to save her but she dies, offering forgiveness for both her father and her betrayer. Monterone’s curse has been fulfilled.


Saturday, February 2, 2019 after performance
Beverly Sills Salon in the San Diego Civic Theatre

Join us immediately following the performance for a opening night celebration in the Beverly Sills Salon. We’ll meet the cast from Rigoletto and enjoy some wine and a delicious buffet. Post-Opera Cast Party tickets are $75 per person. ADD TO YOUR TICKET ORDER TODAY!

Already have your Rigoletto tickets? Purchase your cast party tickets here!