This 1977 production was highly enthusiastically received. Speight Jenkins, the noted critic and opera impresario, wrote of Cornell MacNeil's Rigoletto in the New York Post that "few have ever sung a more moving denunciation of the courtiers or a better Vengeance Duet with Gilda. His was a great Verdian interpretation… Dramatically (Domingo) and Miss Cotrubas did not make a false move, and the same camn be said for Justino Diaz' ominous, well-sung Sparafucile, Isola Jones, the Maddalena…while John Cheek made a stirring Monterone. conducted with the command of Verdi that has so often been his trademark. His adherence to the composer's markings, his rhythm and his opneing of the traditional small cuts in the opera all made for a superb musical performance.
This Rigoletto, filmed live at the Zurich Opera House in 2006, has three strong leads to recommend it. In the title role, Leo Nucci fully represents all of Rigoletto’s character traits and range of emotions—the hunchback’s lancing wit, fearfulness, and self-loathing when we first meet him and later, his obsessive need for revenge. Both Rigoletto’s sense of righteous triumph when he believes he’s got the Duke dead in the bag and his inconsolable grief at the drama’s end are palpable.
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…
This is a superb performance of Rigoletto made at the Arena di Verona. TDK has issued some excellent opera DVDs recently, featuring Eurpean performances, where opera is taken seriously. The digital video and the DTS sound option make the performance very realistic on a big screen TV. Although this is an outdoor performance, on the screen it comes across very well, and there is no sonic compromise, either…By John G. Gleeson Sr.
Opera never has shown its contrasts more than in this Rigoletto from the Sächsische Staatskapelle in Dresden. The production is full of harsh conflicts, which Verdi himself implies by filling this tragedy with so much cheery music. All of the performances here are outstanding. Željko Lučić vanquishes the title role with his powerful voice and emotive acting, which makes him riveting if slightly painful to watch as he is emotionally destroyed.::–Rob McGinness, ClassicsToday.com