HomeProductionsOperasRigolettoSYNOPSISAct 1

Act 1

The action takes place in Mantua and its suburbs in the XVI century.

Scene 1.
A profligate Duke of Mantua is giving a brilliant ball in his palace. His attitude towards women is expressed in the frivolous aria of "Questa o quella, per me pari sono" ("That or this – for me it doesn’t matter"). At some point he briefly leaves the stage to see off the wife of one of his courtiers. Suddenly the public fun and dance music is interrupted by a menacing voice. This is the old Count Monterone, who has come here to curse the Duke for the shamed honour of his daughter. At this moment, the Duke’s jester, the humpback Rigoletto, comes forward and he mocks evilly at the old man. Monterone retains dignity. At the very moment, when the duke orders to imprison the count, Monterone threatens the duke with terrible revenge and curses Rigoletto. It is a curse pronounced by an insulted father and Rigoletto, a loving father and very superstitious man, turns away in horror.

Scene 2.

Being under the burden of the terrible Monterone’s curse, Rigoletto returns home. Just near his house he comes across a sinister figure. This is Sparafuchile, a hired killer. As a professional to a professional, Sparafuchile offers the court jester his services at any time he needs. While this terrible person leaves, mumbling on a very low voice his own name - “Sparafuchile” - Rigoletto exclaims: “Pari siamo! Io la lingua, egli ha il pugnale” (“With him we are equal: I own the word, and he has a dagger”) and sings a monologue, one of Verdi’s masterpieces, cursing his appearance, his fate, his character. This is followed by a long and very beautiful duet Rigoletto with his daughter, young Gilda ("Figlia! .. Mio padre! .." - "Gilda! .. My father! .."). After the death of his wife, Rigoletto didn’t have anyone closer than his daughter, and he desperately wants to protect her from all misfortunes. Leaving the house, he gives the order to Gilda’s maid, Giovanna, to keep all the doors on the locks.
The Rigoletto’s order, however, is not executed. Hardly has he left his house, the Duke of Mantua, disguised as a poor student (but having thrown the purse to Giovanna in order to bribe her to open the door for him), enters the garden. Here he is fervently declaring his love to Gilda ("E il sol dell'anima" - "Believe me, love is the sun and roses"). When he leaves, disturbed by some noise in the street, Gilda sings the aria "Caro nome che il mio con" ("The Heart of Joy is Full").
There is some noise in the street ... The courtiers have come, who conceived to kidnap Gilda, believing that she is Rigoletto's mistress, but not his daughter. To make the joke even funnier, they call on Rigoletto to help them, explaining to him that they want to abduct Count Ceprano’s wife, who lives nearby: the jester is blindfolded and they make him hold the stairs while he does not suspect anything. Just after the company has retired with Gilda, Rigoletto strips the blindfold off. Foreseeing something terrible, he rushes into the house. The action ends at the moment when Rigoletto recalls with horror the paternal curse of old Monterone.


    September, 2020