Rigoletto at the Arts Centre Melbourne
At the Duke’s infamous parties, one man’s words light the darkness with a sinister glitter. Among the glamorous girls and greasy gangsters, Rigoletto serves his master with sharp wits and averted eyes. He’s hideous. He’s hated. He’s untouchable. But in this shimmering world of secrets and seduction, can he keep the one he loves most safe?
Rosie spoke with performer Liparit Avetisyan about the return of Elijah Moshinsky's much-loved production, and what it takes to play the ever-glamorous Duke of Mantua. Read the full interview below:
With an impressive resume that has you performing across the world, from China, to Moscow, to Sydney, you have been labelled by many as one of the most exciting young opera singers performing today. What drew you to Opera Australia as the next step in your career, and more importantly, what drew you to Rigoletto?
First of all I love this wonderful country with its friendly and kind people, tasty food, beautiful nature and fantastic climate (which is especially important for singers)!
I am really enjoying working with Opera Australia because of the wonderful staff and their very professional and sensitive attitude towards the artists. This is my second production here, I sang the role of Alfredo in La Traviata in Sydney two years ago. I’m always happy to be back here and am looking forward to performing the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto in Melbourne.
Regarding Rigoletto, I think it’s one of the brightest operas. I love this music; it’s like a firework with a lot of colours and emotions.
Rigoletto is known for its undeniably catchy songs, but many of these melodies are very technically challenging. Your character, the Duke of Mantua, sings what is by far the catchiest song in the production, so much so that when Verdi wrote it, he forbade the original tenor from even whistling it in public. What’s it like taking on La donna è mobile when it comes with such a great reputation? Where you excited or nervous? Have you found any parts of the song particularly challenging?
Yes, I totally agree with you. It makes me both nervous and excited at the same time. There are a lot of difficult technical pieces in the role of the Duke, especially the very dramatic aria from the second act and the quartet from the last act. The part I find most challenging is singing a difficult piece such as ‘La donna è mobile’ in a funny, easy and carefree manner to match the Duke’s character.
Standing the test of time, Rigoletto has proven to be one of the most enduring and popular works in Opera Australia’s repertoire. Why do you think this work continues to enchant audiences?
Well sure, it’s because of Verdi's genius music and this production is awesome! I love all the costumes, decorations and the smart stage constructions. It’s really beautiful! It’s like an amazing Italian film that you want to watch continuously!
Composer Giuseppe Verdi frequently took marginalised characters in society and put them centre stage, giving a voice to many people who had not had a voice before. What does Rigoletto say about marginalised characters and why are works like this so important to be putting on stage, across opera and other forms of theatre?
I think it is very important, especially in current times, to show that the all people are equal and everyone has the right to a good life! And Rigoletto’s story is the clear proof of this.
In Rigoletto, the style of music for each performer is characteristically different, so that each character in the opera has almost a theme song. How does the harmonic pattern of the Duke’s music differ from other characters and what does it tell us about him?
Well, I think Verdi shows him as a very superficial person who never thinks about consequences and has everything handed to him! But Verdi also wants to show us that there’s something good about him and that he has a soul, especially when he is alone in the beginning of the second act, he sings his beautiful dramatic aria full of love and warm emotions. He looks very natural and very true there. I think the Duke’s environment really spoils him and turns him into a monster and his retinue encourage this and make him believe he can take anything he wants. I love performing this role because it’s very funny, bright, interesting and difficult.
Lastly, what can audiences expect from this production of Rigoletto, and why should they see the show?
As I’ve said it is a really awesome production with wonderful cast :-)
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Many years ago, before my international career I watched the recording of Richard Eyre’s production of La Traviata from Royal Opera House and to my happiness, several years later I sang the role of Alfredo in this production in ROH!
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Plays or musicals?
Dream role to perform?
Too many to say
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I love to cook and experiment with food.
Opera Australia's Rigoletto opens at the Arts Centre Melbourne on May 11. You can get your tickets here.