Summary of Giuseppe Verdi. Rigoletto


Opera in three acts (four scenes) 1

Libretto by F. Piave


Duke of Mantua

Rigoletto, the court jester

Gilda, his daughter

Sparafucile, the bandit

Maddalena, his sister

Giovanna, the maid of Gilda

Count Monterone





Mezzo soprano

Mezzo soprano





Mezzo soprano







Count Cheprano

Countess Cheprano



Courtiers, pages, servants.

The action takes place in Mantua (Italy) in the 16th century.



plot of the opera is based on the drama of V. Hugo “The King is amused”, written in 1832. After the first presentation in Paris, which caused a political demonstration, it was banned as undermining the authority of royal power. Hugo sued, accusing the government of arbitrariness and restoration of censorship, destroyed by the revolution of 1830. The trial received wide public resonance, but the ban was not lifted – the second performance of the play “The King is amused” was held in France only half a century later.

Hugo’s dramatic art attracted Verdi with vivid romantic contrasts, a violent clash of passions, freedom-loving pathos, a tense, dynamic development of action. The plot of “Rigoletto” by Verdi was the best of all, put to music: “There are strong situations, diversity, brilliance, pathos.” All events are conditioned by the frivolous and empty character of the duke; Rigoletto’s fears, Gilda’s passion, etc., create remarkable dramatic episodes. ” The composer interpreted images of Hugo in his own way, which caused protest

from the writer. In a historical drama with large mass scenes and numerous details of the life and way of life of the court of Francis I (1515-1547). First of all, Verdi was very interested in the psychological drama.

The text of Hugo was reduced. The plot acquired a more chambered sound; the emphasis was shifted to showing the personal relationships of the heroes in psychologically acute situations. Some reductions were caused not only by the specific features of the opera genre and the composer’s individual intent, but also by fears of a censorship ban. However, to avoid a collision with the censorship of Verdi failed. In early 1850, he developed a detailed plan for the opera, which was called “The Curse”, and instructed to write the text of F. Piave (1810-1876) – an experienced librettist who collaborated with Verdi for many years. Part of the music was already written, when the censorship required a radical recital of the libretto. The composer was offered to remove the historical character – the king, to replace the ugly protagonist (Jester Tribula) with a traditional opera handsome, etc.

The score of “Rigoletto” was completed extremely quickly – in forty days. The premiere took place on March 11, 1851 in Venice. The opera was received enthusiastically and quickly spread across all European scenes, bringing Verdi the widest popularity.


“Rigoletto” – one of the most famous works of Verdi. The opera is based on dramatic dramatic contrasts. In the center of her is a sharp psychological drama, which delineates the image of Rigoletto, a sarcastic court clown, a tender, deeply suffering father, a formidable avenger. He is confronted by a frivolous and depraved duke, depicted against the background of court life. Mental purity, selfless devotion are personified in the image of young Gilda.

These contrasting characters are convex, with a remarkable wealth of psychological shades embodied in the music of the opera.

In the orchestral introduction, the tragic melody of the curse sounds, which has an important meaning in the opera; it is replaced by the carefree music of the ball that opens the first act. Against the background of dances and choirs of the dance warehouse, the brilliant and cheerful ballad of the Duke “This il il – I do not understand” sounds. Tense drama brings the curse of Monterone “Again insult”; The pathetic vocal melody is supported by the formidable growth of orchestral sonority.

In the second act2 the scene with Sparafucile and the episode of the abduction of its sinister coloring are highlighted by light episodes connected with the image of Gilda. A small duo of Rigoletto and Sparafucile is preceded by the motive of the curse. In the monologue Rigoletto “With him we are equal” reveals a wide range of experiences of the hero: the curse of fate, ridicule of the duke, hatred of the court, tender love for his daughter. The duet of Rigoletto and Gilda captivates with lyrically warm melodious melodies. The duet of Gilda and the Duke begins in dreamy tones; beautiful melody of recognition of the Duke “Believe me, love is the sun and roses” is warmed by a sincere feeling. Gilda’s colorful aria “The heart of joy is full” embodies the image of a happy loving girl. Her light, serene mood is contrasted with the alarming color of the scene of abduction, in the center of which is a mysterious,

The third act begins with the aria of the duke “I see a sweet darling”; The melodic melody conveys a tender, enthusiastic feeling. Behind the aria follows the boastful chorus of the courtiers. In the great dramatic scene, Rigoletto’s heartache was transferred; the eyes of anger (“The Courtesans, the Witches of Wickedness”) are replaced by a passionate entreaty (“O signori, pity yourself on me”). The duet Rigoletto and Gilda are preceded by Gilda’s ingenious story “I entered humbly”; then the voices of the heroes unite in an enlightened and sorrowful melody. A blatant contrast sounds the curse of Monterone. To him answer the full determination of Rigoletto’s phrase “Yes, the hour of terrible revenge” has come.

In the fourth act, the duke’s characteristic is the most important – the most popular song is “The Heart of Beauty”. In the music of the quartet, with remarkable perfection, inconsistent feelings are embodied: the duke’s love confession, Maddalena’s mocking, mocking sighs, the sorrowful sighs of Gilda, the sombre remarks of Rigoletto. The next scene, accompanied by the choir behind the scenes, singing with a closed mouth, passes against a background of a thunderstorm that emphasizes Gilda’s spiritual turmoil; dramaticism reaches its climax at a time when the duke’s light-hearted song is heard. The final duo of Rigoletto and Gilda “There in Heaven” 3 echoes with their duet of the second act; At the end of the opera, again, the motive of the curse sounds menacingly.

1 On Soviet scenes, it is usually put in four acts.

2 Verdi – the second picture of the first act.

3 Often in the production is released.

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Summary of Giuseppe Verdi. Rigoletto