Duke –Saimir Pirgu; Rigoletto – Markus Brück; Gilda – Aigul Khismatullina; Sparafucile – Liang Li; Maddalena – Nino Surguladze

Chorus and Orchestra of Gran Teatre del Liceu, Conductor: Daniele Callegari; Director: Monique Wagemakers;  Designers: Michael Levine (set); Sandy Powell (costumes); Reinier Tweebeeke (lighting)

Streamed on OperaVision on 11 March 2022

This is going to be a short review.

Verdi is not for the faint of heart singer. Rigoletto is one of the most vocally challenging of his mid-career operas. The title role is quintessentially an Italian dramatic baritone part: it calls for a rock-solid top voice, endurance, the ability to spin a long cantabile line, and then follow it up with an explosion of sound, as it happens in two of the three duets with Gilda.

The German baritone Markus Brück, whom many of us have admired in several Strauss and Wagner roles, is not ideally cast as Rigoletto, but what he lacks in Italianate sound and the ability to sing the Verdi cantilena, he makes up in intelligence and subtlety in his vocal and dramatic choices. I would love to see Brück in the title part of Falstaff.

The Tatarstani coloratura soprano Aigul Khismatullina is a lovely Gilda, impeccable of technique, honest in her acting, pretty and girlish and perfect for the part of a virginal teen-ager. The Albanian tenor  Saimir Pirgu is a good Duke, but sounds reluctant to deliver anything below a forte dynamic level, a fault that hinders what could otherwise be a nice performance. 

Rounding out the cast of principals are Liang Li – a sturdy Sparafucile, and Nino Surguladze – a sensual and sonorous Maddalena. The chorus and orchestra of Gran Teatre del Liceu excel, ably conducted by Daniele Callegari. The production has stunning visual aspects and the innovative direction of Monique Wagemakers keeps the acting honest and the movement unfailingly interesting.

This is another interesting offering by OperaVision.

Rafael de Acha (c) 2022

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