Rigoletto

Originally titled La Maledizione (“The Curse”), this tune-filled opera weaves a story of jealousy, intrigue and lust and contains one of Verdi’s best known arias, La Donna è Mobile (“Woman is Fickle”), famously performed by the Three Tenors. Based on the play Le Roi S’Amuse (“The King Amuses Himself”) by celebrated French author Victor Hugo (Les Misérables), which was banned because of Hugo’s scandalous portrayal of a real French king, Verdi and his librettist substituted a Duke for the king and moved the action to Italy. The hunchback Rigoletto is court jester to the immoral, dissipated Duke of Mantua, who “amuses himself” by chasing skirts, preferably those of married women. Rigoletto, complicit with the Duke’s philandering, ridicules the ladies’ husbands but is terrified when one of them places a curse on him. When the Duke seduces Rigoletto’s innocent young daughter Gilda, Rigoletto vows vengeance and hires Sparafucile, a hit man, to assassinate the Duke. In an ironic twist of fate, Gilda, who has fallen in love with her seducer, sacrifices her life for his. When Rigoletto makes the horrible discovery that Gilda has died in place of the Duke, he ends the opera crying, “La Maledizione!”

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