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Opera review: Weaving together the classic and the contemporary as adroitly as Arachne

Emma Barnett
September 21st, 2017

This article is more than 6 years old.

Royal Danish Theatre deliver the goods with Verdi’s Rigoletto ★★★★★☆

Hang on, isn’t this the Spain Eurovision entry that got interrupted by the stage invader? (photos: Miklos Szabo)

The Royal Danish Theatre has once again come up trumps with this modern twist on Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’, which has been filling up theatres since it opened in 1851. This audience favourite, a tragedy of Shakespearean dimension, is driven by frustration, love, envy, vengeance and power, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.

Hunchback of notre hearts
The story revolves around Rigoletto, the hunchbacked court jester to the Duke of Mantua, who desperately wants to gain the respect of his peers.

Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda, is the only joy in his life. Rigoletto is an overprotective father who does everything in his power to protect Gilda from the hardships of life.

However, a terrible mistake causes his world to fall apart. Rigoletto relives this mistake over and over again as it continues to drag him into insanity.

For those who like modern twists
German director Aniara Amos returns to the Royal Danish Theatre to deliver her own twist on this troubling tale.

With the use of technology, Amos creates what she describes as a “crazy, insane and freaky David Lynch-setting” to tell the story of Rigoletto.

If you are not a fan of the integration of modern aspects into classic operas, seeing this production of ‘Rigoletto’ might not be the best decision. However, if you do enjoy the intertwining of the classic and the contemporary, this production is absolutely brilliant.

Fatal distraction at times
The simplistic set is enhanced by a screen at the back projecting contemporary art, videos, paintings, and drawings to symbolise what is happening on stage. For example, at one point there was a scene foreshadowing the fate of Gilda and the screen at the back drew Gilda as the song was being sung.

However, while this unique addition enhanced the performance, at times it was also a bit distracting. It was easy to pay more attention to the screen at times than the performers on stage.

Other modern additions could be spotted throughout the opera. Fidget spinners, televisions and costumes covered in lights are certainly items that did not exist back in 1851, but here they were remarkably infused into the show, adding a whole new element to the production.

Strong performances by leads
The cast was phenomenal. Sebastian Catana, who played Rigoletto, had an incredibly creamy voice. His acting was superb and he was even able to include a comedic twist in this tragic plot.

Gilda was performed by Anke Briegel who effortlessly perfected every high note. Her stage presence perfectly depicted Gilda’s personality.

Peter Lodahl was an excellent choice to play the Duke on Mantua. At the end of the performance, the cast received a standing ovation.

Exceptional orchestral assistance
Last, but certainly not least, the highest compliments must be paid to the exceptional orchestra, which blew the audience away.

Additionally, despite a technical difficulty with the subtitles, the transitions and lighting enhanced every aspect of the opera.

Overall, Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ is filled with classics such as ‘La Donna è Mobile’, and it is a wonderful way to spend a classy evening out in Copenhagen.



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