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Welsh National Opera – Rigoletto
Wales Millennium Centre
Friday 4th October 2019

After a Carmen which didn’t quite make the mark, this season WNO return to one of there last productions seen at the New Theatre before their epic move to the Millennium Centre. Rigoletto, one of Verdi’s most well known operas has always caused scandals due to its morals and harsh story. Saying this, its one of Verdi’s finest scores and a firm favourite here.

James Macdonald’s take on this racy opera works well in a Kennedy era, White House setting. What might feel a bit random has clout today with the U. S. brimming with impeachments, fake news and other absurdities. It’s a fitting time of year to stage this, as the events appear to aspire on All Hallows Eve, adding to the macabre nature of the story. Though the production might feel smaller due to its premier venue, there is still a great deal of attention within it. The Oval Office interiors are instantly recognisable in the second act and The Capital building getting smaller and smaller in the background as the acts go on is also a nice touch, perhaps a statement on privilege and town planning.

The Duke (or rather Mr. President) is here taken on by David Junghoon Kim. There is some appeal to his voice in this gusty role, but nothing exceeds slightly above average. Though his rendition of the eternal ‘La donna è mobile’ was welcoming, it didn’t set fire to the stage. Marina Monzó as Gilda is a treasure. Her take on the aria ‘Caro nome’ was soft and subtle, a beguiling feature. She has a lot to say about her betrayal with the Duke, though her sacrifice is perhaps one of the silliest ones in all of opera. As the title character, Mark S. Doss is the definitive jester. The acting and full voice work wonders in this performance of the tragic role. The chorus have some brilliant moments in party mode, or when kidnapping Gilda or just being the sound of the wind in the storm of the third act. They never wane.

This is a trip to the opera that is essential this autumn.

Rating: 4 stars

Rigoletto continues at the WMC with further performances of Carmen & The Cunning Little Vixen, then on tour.

Photo Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

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