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Rigoletto

Royal Opera House, London WC2

    There is one compelling reason to see this revival of David McVicar's 11-year-old production of Rigoletto. He is called Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

    Gardiner's conducting is not merely thrilling - he strips the score of the accretions of tradition (which Toscanini cuttingly described as a fool's memory of the last bad performance), allowing every line to breathe and Verdi's orchestration, so often taken for granted, to emerge in its glory. An electric current runs through every bar.

    Ekaterina Siurina's Gilda is beautifully sung, but the vocal star is Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias in the title role. If anything, his voice is too beautiful, leading to an under-characterised first act. But in the second and third acts he claims the role as his own. As for Vittorio Grigolo's Duke: ham acting and preening vocal tricks combine into a performance of utter vulgarity. He once seemed so promising. But his good looks and beautiful top register appear to have been squandered.

    McVicar's production, which was once mildly shocking, now seems tired. But this is Gardiner's show. (Tel: 020 7304 4000)

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