Predictably director David McVicar takes a dark view of Rigoletto, a work he finds utterly depressing as "experience leads to downfall and exit from eden" (McVicar from the bonus material).
The entire opera is played out in a single circular rotating set constructed by metal and tree with interposed transparent glass shifting between the decadent luxury of the Duke´s world and the darkness of Rigoletto´s world. The explicit sexuality and decadence in the opening scene has rarely been done more convincing on an operatic stage. Subtleness is not a key word in this context.
The structures of the dark world of Rigoletto and Sparafucile become apparent through the glass in in the Duke´s decadent world as well. In essence a fragile world of luxury supported (quite literally) by the other world.
Christine Schäfer shows great musician-ship and phrasing as a crystal-clear, almost neurotic Gilda. According to David McVicar, Gilda is a character who simply cannot survive in such a society. Once she tastes experience, her destruction is inevitable.
Marcelo Àlvarez is a superb Duke, the best part I´ve seen him in, once again confirming David McVicar´s reputation of making otherwise not exceptionally singer-actors act. Even Paolo Gavanelli is on better form than often seen, however a memorable Rigoletto on the level of Leo Nucci he will never be in my book.
The DVD includes an interesting interview with David McVicar explaining his view of Rigoletto (and opera in general).
Christine Schäfer, Paolo Gavanelli "Si,vendetta":
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Paolo Gavanelli: 3-4
Marcelo Àlvarez: 4
Christine Schäfer: 4-5
Eric Halfvarsson: 4
David McVicar: 4
Edward Downes: 4
Overall impression: 4