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Review: Rigoletto at the Arts Centre Melbourne

By Jenna Schroder

Rigoletto is a tale of misplaced love and revenge that has moved audiences throughout the years.

The story centres around the titular character Rigoletto, the Duke’s jester, and his daughter Gilda, who Rigoletto tries desperately to keep hidden. However, his biting quips towards the Duke’s courtiers and a curse from Count Monterone set in motion a series of events that expose Gilda to the cold, harsh world to devastating effect.

Amartuvshin Enkhbat as Rigoletto and Stacey Alleaume as Gilda succeed in drawing out the central themes and emotional oomph of the opera as their performances display a deep and familial care for one another.

Enkhbat presents a vulnerable and fearful Rigoletto that, while not quite hitting the mark on Rigoletto’s crass and cruel jester facade, hits home where it counts. His performance is deeply moving, particularly through the emotional rigourmarol of Acts Two and Three. Enkhbat’s voice is all encompassing. It fills the theatre with warm sound; an achievement that seems effortless as Enkhbat moves around the stage.

Alleaume is an engrossing Gilda with fabulous characterisation and graceful movement. Her bright, bell like voice reflects Gilda’s love sick naivety. Her clear tone shines above, yet in perfect partnership with Enkhbat and the other voices on stage.

The sense of love between her and Liparit Avetisyan as the Duke of Mantua is utterly believable and heart warming, making his betrayal all the more gut wrenching.

Enkhbat, Alleaume and Avetisyan all come into their own vocally after interval. This is not a moment too soon for Avetisyan who performs the famous La Donna e Mobile with strength and supported sound - his performance confident and joyous.

Roberto Scandiuzzi as Sparafucile and Sian Sharp as Maddalena give well defined performances in the few moments they’re afforded, with Scandiuzzi holding a note so rumbling and long in Act One that it garners quiet gasps and fervent applause afterward.

The production isn’t afraid to include touches of humour into this tragic story and every member of the cast embraces momentary silliness with gusto. But these seem to be the only flecks of reinterpretation the production offers. For the most part, Rigoletto has been interpreted very traditionally by director Elijah Moshinsky and revival director Hugh Halliday.

Even its 1950s style costuming cannot change the sense that this production, like the set, is well lived in. It is therefore the stellar cast that brings this production of Rigoletto to life. With confident, genuine characterisations and emotive vocal performances, Opera Australia’s Rigoletto hits all the right notes and showcases why this opera is so beloved.

Photo Credit: Jeff Busby

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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