Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Last week, we took in another opera at the Teatro Comunale here in Florence; this time it was "Rigoletto" by Giuseppe Verdi. Surely one of his masterpieces (and known mostly for "La donna e' mobile"), we had never seen this piece on the stage before. Actually, I was surprised by how much it is a story about Rigoletto (and not the Duke, who nevertheless has the famous arias). The whole first act is basically a tour de force for the baritone, who in this case was Ivan Inverardi. Deservedly, he got the most applause of the night for a very good performance. The rest of the cast was competent enough -- Shalva Mukeria as the Duke was a bit shaky on the high notes in the first act, but later improved, and Annamaria Dell’Oste performed well as Gilda. On the other hand, Nicole Piccolomini in the rather minor role of Maddalena was one of the few instances in which I wanted the singing to end. A grating voice and no hint of interpretation -- forte all the way -- I hope she was simply having an off night.
The staging was a bit curious: the costumes were traditional, but the scenery (a 50's style car, a boat, and a large black wall) were more modern. It didn't add up to a coherent statement, and I was left wondering if there was a lack of communication between the different departments of the theater. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable evening, and probably not the last time we see "Rigoletto".


Kristen said...

I thought the woman playing Maddalena just didn't have a traditional opera voice.

Anonymous said...

Dears, I lived in Firenze much longer than you understood how to pronounce the name of the beautiful city. Maggio Musicale is very close to my heart and Maestro Monti is my caro amico. I was his guest at the performance of Rigoletto you attended. I'm happy you support Maggio Musicale and the opera lirica, but to criticize the things you don't understand is not to make a good figure. Above all the beauty of the mezzo's sprezzatura. So please continue to make the charming posts about food. It's much better for everyone.

Ben said...

Anonymous -- thank you for reading our blog and for leaving a comment. Of course, I am not a professional opera critic, and neither am I as influential a blogger as e.g. Opera Chic (my income only allows me to attend operas 2-3 times a year). That being said, I do consider myself an accomplished amateur musician, having played in various concert bands and orchestras for nearly 20 years (unfortunately, I was not able to find an amateur orchestra here in Florence). I appreciate what a theater such as the Maggio Musicale can bring to a city, and think that Florence can count itself lucky to have this institution. Especially the Recondita Armonia, of which the performance I attended was part of, is something that other opera companies and theaters should take as an example: hiring young, talented singers and putting on solid performances of the repertoire at a price that normal people can afford. As you may have read throughout the blog, I have been quite happy with the performances I have seen at the Teatro Comunale, and Rigoletto was no exception. However, I stand by what I wrote back in October, namely that in my opinion, Ms. Piccolomini was a disappointment, for the reasons I gave in my original post. If I remember correctly, the audience that night was in agreement with me, judging from their reserved applause -- and the audiences at Maggio Musicale have in the past been some of the most educated ones that I have experienced. I would be happy to revise my opinion of Ms. Piccolomini if given another chance to hear her perform, but unfortunately her performance as Maddalena was not to my taste (and perhaps she was simply having a bad night). You may not agree with my opinion, but I will continue to post my thoughts about concerts, operas, sightseeing, and of course food in our blog. Please continue to comment if you disagree.