Review: Rigoletto

By Stephen Pollard, October 14, 2010

Royal Opera House, London WC2

Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House is a mixed bag. To give it its due, it is gripping and certainly a terrific night out. But there is something missing.

The first act, in the Duke's palace, does not quite come off. It is all very busy, but in David McVicar's production the orgy leaves nothing to the imagination, which actually has the effect of diluting the impact of the music.

When the story takes off in the second act, the performance does move up a gear, although this is where the real problems emerge. Dmitri Hvorostovsky's Rigoletto is as beautifully sung as you would expect, and for once he inhabits a role rather than coasting on the quality of his voice. And when the mob kidnap Gilda, his daughter, the scene is unbearably tense. But while Patrizia Ciofi is affecting and can act, her voice is average.

There are, however, two bigger flaws. The Korean Wookyung Kim has a pleasing tenor voice, but he is simply not a credible Duke - he can only strike caricature postures and somehow seems at once remove from everything.

But the real problem is Israeli conductor Dan Ettinger, in his house debut. He whips up a fantastic noise, and takes things at a white-hot pace. So it is all very frenetic and gets a huge round of applause at the end. But it is not Verdi - the music has no room to breathe, and much of the subtlety is lost.

That is what stops this Rigoletto from being anything more than an enthralling drama with accompanying music. (Box offices:
ENO 0871 911 0200; ROH 020 7304 4000)

Last updated: 5:48pm, November 10 2010