Sin City Duke: Met moves 'Rigoletto' to Las Vegas
This Sept. 15, 2010 photo released by Opera Australia shows Alan Opie in the title role of Opera Australia's "Rigoletto," in Sydney. The first of Giuseppe Verdi's three great middle period triumphs has been shifted before to New York's Little Italy, Federico Fellini's Rome, modern-day Hollywood and even the Oval Office. Now it will take place amid dazzling Sin City lights and not in the Renaissance Palazzo Ducale when Michael Mayer's version of the 162-year-old classic opens Monday night. (AP Photo/Opera Australia, Branco Gaica)
NEW YORK (AP) — Diana Damrau recalled when she learned the Metropolitan Opera's new production of "Rigoletto" would be set in the glitzy Rat Pack-era Las Vegas of 1960, not 16th-century Mantua.
"At first you get a shock. Why and how?" the German soprano said. "But I think it works perfectly for the U.S.A., so they have a real American 'Rigoletto.'"
The first of Giuseppe Verdi's three great middle-period triumphs has been shifted to New York's Little Italy, Federico Fellini's Rome, modern-day Hollywood and even the Oval Office. Now it will take place amid dazzling Sin City lights and not in the Renaissance Palazzo Ducale when Michael Mayer's version of the 162-year-old classic opens Jan. 28.
"Many people are a little bit scared about it, because they just see or hear about Las Vegas," Polish tenor Piotr Beczala said.
Beczala sings the Duke in a cast that also includes Serbian baritone Zeljko Lucic as Rigoletto. Damrau is Rigoletto's daughter Gilda.
The Met, known for having a conservative audience, has seen divisive debate unfold on its Facebook page. The 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth is Oct. 10, and a segment of fans abhors regietheater, where the director reinterprets the original creation.
"I know that there are some people who come to boo new productions, particularly new productions that are of staple repertory pieces," Met General Manager Peter Gelb said. "My expectations and hopes are that this will work and that it will be grand and spectacular and dramatically right and a good platform for these three great singers."
This undated image released by the English National Opera shows a scene from a production of "Rigoletto." The British director Jonathan Miller famously reinvented "Rigoletto" for his 1982 staging at the English National Opera, moving it to Little Italy in the 1950s. Inspired by "The Godfather" movies and the film "Some Like It Hot," Miller turned the Duke into a mafia boss and Rigoletto into a waiter at a mob hangout. (AP Photo/English National Opera, Chris Christodoulou)
Michele Mariotti conducts.
"From the beginning, I was a little bit suspicious because I'm very traditional and a classic-oriented guy," Lucic said during the final week of rehearsals, "but now I'm enjoying this very much."
To replace Otto Schenk's traditional 1989 staging, Gelb at first hired Swiss director Luc Bondy, whose grim vision of Puccini's "Tosca" prompted intense booing when it debuted on the opening night of the 2009-10 season. A co-production with the Wiener Festwochen and Milan's Teatro alla Scala, Bondy's "Rigoletto" opened in Vienna in May 2011 with a dark 19th-century setting, and Gelb decided to drop it. He called Mayer, who won a Tony Award in 2007 for the rock musical "Spring Awakening," and asked him to make his opera debut.