Verdi, child of the people, king of popular opera, began life as the son of an innkeeper. He was brought up in modest circumstances. He first received lessons from the village priest, who was amazed by the young musician’s talents. Verdi’s musical education was rounded and complete: at the age of sixteen, the composer wrote fugues, masses and symphonies, which he would later destroy. As he met with reticence in Milan, he settled in Busseto where he fell victim to the pettiness of the town. However, his strong willpower enabled him to pursue his musical path without paying heed to what people said…
The sought-after lyric tenor Piotr Beczala, is the womanizing Duke in this new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto from the Metropolitan Opera. Željko Luèiæ sings the title role and Diana Damrau sings Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda. This DVD and Blu-ray release appears in the Verdi year 2013, as music lovers around the world celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Italy’s beloved composer.
This extraordinarily powerful 1983 production may be the best-sung performance by Luciano Pavarotti on DVD, but when acting values are counted in, Ingvar Wixell manages to outshine the tenor star. Verdi gave the Duke two of Italian opera's most brilliant arias ("Questa o quella" and "La donna e mobile"), but he gave the deformed jester Rigoletto a depth and complexity of character that is reflected in music of great variety and enormous emotional impact: the cruel mockery of the opening scene, the self-doubts inspired by his dialogue with Sparafucile, the paternal anxieties and final despair at his daughter's sad fate, and the burning, self-destructive thirst for revenge.
Decca is proud to present this unique recording of Rigoletto. The only Rigoletto stage production on film featuring Luciano Pavarotti, this performance of one of Verdi's best-loved operas was discovered in the Metropolitan Opera Archives and is available here for the first time. Recorded in 1981, it presents Pavarotti at the peak of his career, supported by an outstanding cast that includes Louis Quilico in the title role, Christine Eda-Pierre as Gilda, Ara Berberian as Sparafucile, and Isola Jones as Maddalena, with Met Music Director James Levine on the podium.
All of these are live recordings so the sound is quite variable. The standard square box contains separate soft plastic sleeves in which the cds are inserted. The advantage is that the cds are well protected (minor risk for scrapes compared to cardboard), but there is no information printed on the sleeve since it is made of plastic. There is some basic information printed on each cd (name, composer, cd #, the act/s and the date of the recording). There is also a small 24pg booklet that introduces the box including some photos as well as content description for each disc (opera, singers, time and location as well as a list of the separate tracks). I have been collecting these boxes for a while and always find it worthwhile as there are gems nicely interspersed in these collections. By Moonfish
For many opera fans the favourite Rigoletto on dvd remains the 1983 film version starring the young Pavarotti as the dashing Duke, his irrepressible singing and high spirits contrasting sharply with the gut wrenching wretchedness of the jester played by Wixell almost to perfection,and of course the inimitable Gruberova as Gilda the jester's daughter.(For me this together with the Domingo/Migenes 'Carmen', and the Domingo/Stratas 'La Traviata' represents the best of opera films). Now comes the 2006 production of Rigoletto, staged by the Zurich Opera House with Chorus and Orchestra wonderfully conducted by Santi, recorded in High-Definition and transfered to an Arthaus Blu Ray disc of breathtaking quality. I'm not exaggerating. Even by today's Hi-Def standards, the picture quality here is simply stunning: inky blackness, realistic night time scenes accurately rendered with proper light and shadow effects, atmospheric blue lighting, and the sets and costumes show up in vivid pop-up colours with razor sharp contrasts… By Chhan Thuan Kiat