Sunday 30 December 2012

Patricia Petibon shines in a new Rigoletto in Munich

Rigoletto. Live streaming from Munich. December 30th, 2012. Production: Arpad Schilling. Conductor: Marco Armiliato. Cast: Joseph Calleja (Duke), Franco Vassallo (Rigoletto), Patricia Petibon (Gilda), Nadia Krasteva (Maddalena), Dmitri Ivashchenko (Sparafucile).
  • This new production replaces the infamous Planet of the Apes proction (by Dorris Dörrie), that I unfortunately never saw, but of which several famous Gildas (Diana Damrau, Anna Netrebko) spoke very negatively
  • According to Arpad Schilling, his interest in Rigoletto is to show the sliding transition between theatre and real life - ie. where the theatre stops and the real life begins. Why this applies specifically to Rigoletto is not entirely clear,  but perhaps he took his inspirations from the theatre-like scenes in the Duke´s palace between the Duke/Rigoletto (the actors) on one side vs. the noblemen (the spectators).
  • In any case, the production almost approaches a concert version, with a amphitheatre-like set up with the crowd/noblemen facing the spectators in the theatre, and the principal characters moving in front of either them or a huge curtain. This gives more than an element of Greek tragedy to the performance, underlined by the masks that comes on and off.
  • Definitely less controversial than last time around, but also less than fully engaging. However, the singing was top-notch:
  • Joseph Calleja is simply glorious as the Duke and I don´t think many better tenors are around. Except, of course, Jonas Kaufmann, that in addition has the stage charisma, the only thing Calleja lacks.
  • Patricia Petibon is a very moving Gilda, and an exceptional stage presence. I have heard many Gilda-sopranos explain that Gilda is a multi-faceted character that opposes her father as well as loves him, but Petibon is the first I have seen that convincingly brings this interpretation to the stage. On CD she has occasionally sounded overstretched and vocally approching the condition of Natalie Dessay, but not so here, where she was in fine voice in a role, which is not too heavy for her.
  • Though perhaps not overly charismatic, Franco Vassallo sings beautifully as Rigoletto.
  • In the pit Marco Armiliato was efficient, as were Ivashchenko and Krasteva as the "villains".
  • Despite fine and engaging performances from the singers, these theatre-within-theatre concepts often tends to become too artificial, draining the energy from the piece and this was not really an exception.
Production video:
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