Rome Opera Tickets

    Rigoletto, Baths of Caracalla

    Rigoletto, Baths of Caracalla

    After he had found success turning theatre plays by Lord Byron and William Shakespeare into dramatic operas, in 1850 Giuseppe Verdi was looking for his next classic text to set to music. Before long, he turned to Le Roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo. The fiercely anti-royalist piece had been banned years prior for its revolting depiction of a morally rotten monarch obsessed with carnal pleasures. To get the project past the strict censors, Verdi and his librettist Francesco Maria Piave reset the action in the Italian Duchy of Mantua several centuries back. The plan worked, and Rigoletto debuted at Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851, to rousing reviews and overwhelmingly positive public response. The opera’s reign near the top of the repertoire continues to this day, and the production at the historic Baths of Caracalla in Rome will leave little doubt as to why.

    Musically, Rigoletto is one of Verdi’s signature operas. The composer adeptly drives the action with perfectly atmospheric orchestral passages, and each aria is a brilliant study in character development through melody and mood. Among the many gems, ‘La donna è mobile’ is the undoubted audience favourite. It is humorous, depraved, sexist, and utterly enjoyable, revealing the Duke of Mantua’s complete lack of remorse over his sinful ways.

    The plot of Rigoletto focuses on a trio of characters: the womanising Duke of Mantua; his court jester Rigoletto who enables and encourages him, only to add insult to injury by mocking his victims; and Gilda, the jester’s daughter whom he feverishly keeps away from the sexual depravity of the court. However, in a stroke of karmic justice, the Duke finds out about Gilda’s existence and quickly puts his disarming charms to use. Rigoletto is outraged about his dishonoured daughter and for once experiences the pain and humiliation he used to deride. A deadly plan arises in his mind, but blind vengeance will only make a bad situation much worse. Verdi’s bone-chilling tragedy unfolds on the storied stage of Rome’s Terme di Caracalla this season.

    image Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla) / Photo by C.M. Falsini